By Chukwuma Muanya
Following the two deaths and infection of three others by the raging Ebola outbreak in Uganda that spread from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has intensified preparedness for infectious diseases.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said more than 2,000 cases of the epidemic had been recorded in DRC since last August when the Central Africa nation declared a 10th outbreak in North Kivu province with an overall death toll of 1,405.
The NCDC said Nigeria was better prepared to contain any possible epidemic, as it had continuously developed capacity for response in this regard.
Consequently, the centre yesterday signed a joint declaration of intent with Germany’s national public wellbeing institute, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), to strengthen health security in the country.
Head, Communications of the NCDC, Jeremiah Agenyi, in a statement, said the new Nigeria Centre for Disease Control: Capacity Development for Preparedness and Response for Infectious Diseases (NiCADE) project would involve partnerships with tertiary hospitals under the coordination of the disease centre with support from the German outfit.
The collaboration is to include surveillance for Hepatitis E, Rotavirus and AMR.
The new pact comes less than two years after NCDC began to collaborate with RKI in a project that led to the development of a national training manual for infection prevention control (IPC) in Nigeria.
Agenyi said as a follow up to the successful venture, both organisations had extended collaboration to include scrutiny of endemic viral infections of high public health concern and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as well as antibiotic stewardship and improvement of infection prevention and control (IPC).
At the event yesterday in Abuja, RKI President, Prof. Dr. Lothar H. Wieler, noted that the partnership holds positive outcomes.
“As national public health institutes of federal republics, NCDC and RKI have similar structures that will provide strong learning opportunities for each other,” he said.
As part of the deal, the German institute would provide technical expertise and advice to the Nigerian agency towards strengthening international health regulations (IHR) capacity.
“The partnership between NCDC and RKI is a mutually beneficial opportunity for national public health institutes to collaborate towards global health security. It greatly demonstrates the fact that countries are mutually dependent on one another for health security,” he added.
Nigeria, and indeed the rest of the world, are disturbed because Ebola killed 11,000 people and ravaged West Africa between 2014 and 2015.
A case each was detected in Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom at the time.