The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, has called for a stronger commitment to tackle the threats of monkeypox and other zoonotic diseases in the country.
Adetifa made the call on Wednesday in Abuja, at the Nigeria OneHealth Conference, with the theme: “Call to Action towards Building a One Health Community Based Network”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference was organised by the NCDC and other stakeholders with the support of the US Biosecurity Engagement Programme and Global Implementation Solutions.
In 2019, Nigeria developed the National One Health Strategic Plan to tackle emerging diseases, 75 per cent of which spread from animals to humans.
In the last five years, Nigeria has witnessed catastrophic effects of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever, Dengue, rabies, yellow fever, and the recent COVID-19.
One Health is designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislations and research involving multiple sectors to achieve better public health outcomes.
This has led to the effective response to notable zoonotic diseases such as avian influenza, Ebola, Lassa fever, and COVID-19 outbreaks.
The NCDC boss said the commitment was needed to effectively confront infectious diseases of animal origin causing public health threats.
Adetifa said that the smooth implementation of the One Health strategic plan was critical to containing emerging diseases.
“This strategic document addresses some of the gaps identified in the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of Nigeria’s International Health Regulations core capacities.
“Most importantly, the plan reinforces the shared commitment of the Federal Government to enhance multi-sectoral collaborations in addressing public health challenges within the human-animal ecosystem.
“If successfully implemented, the plan will advance the One Health cause in the country through its institutionalisation.
“It will address zoonotic diseases, enhance food safety and security, improve livelihoods of many Nigerians and keep Nigeria healthier and safer,” he explained.
He said that the conference was an opportunity to share lessons and experiences of implementing the One-health project, especially in light of the recent rise in zoonotic diseases.
Prof. Akindele Adebiyi, Consultant Community Physician and Clinical Epidemiologist with the University of Ibadan said that the sustainability of the planet depended on the collaboration of human, environmental and animal sectors.
While speaking on the Interconnection of Global Health Security and One Health, Adebiyi stated that it aligned with the triple bottom approach of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Surely we’ve come a long way from the year 2013 of developing an influenza preparedness plan to implementing a COVID-19 pandemic plan.
“One Health provides a framework for a sustainable approach to addressing health security challenges,” he said.
Dr. Oyeladun Okunromade, Deputy Director, Surveillance at NCDC, said even though Nigeria’s health capacity had improved to 46 per cent in 2019, more efforts should be made to tackle identified gaps.
“We prioritise zoonotic diseases of public health significance in Nigeria using the OneHealth approach. Current scientific data, however, require a reprioritisation of these zoonotic diseases in Nigeria.
“The JEE rated Nigeria’s health security capacity at 39 per cent in 2017.
“This improved to 46 per cent in the 2019 mid-term JEE, to reflect Nigeria’s progress towards addressing identified gaps in One Health implementation,” she said.