On Thursday 6th October 2016, the national stakeholders meeting on International Health Regulations was held in Abuja within at Nigeria Centre for Disease Control premises. This meeting brought together local parties involved in the implementation of the legal regulations.
The International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 are legally binding regulations (forming international law) that aim to a) assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the spread of diseases and other health risks by implementing commensurate measures , while b) avoiding unnecessary interference with international trade and travel. In this light all local government agencies working directly or indirectly on these two key functions have a role to play in the implementation of the regulation.
The meeting was chaired by the National Focal Point Responsible Person for IHR and the Director of Surveillance at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Mrs. Olubunmi Ojo; with the National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre in attendance. There were also other participants from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigeria Civil Aviation Agency, The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency,
Participants, at the four hours long meeting, deliberated on the current national workplan for the implementation of the IHR and the roles and responsibilities of sectors involved in its implementation and coordination. An update on designation of Nigeria’s Point of Entry was shared as one of the key immediate goals of the country in the implementation of the IHR.
This stakeholders meeting is the first after the resumption of office by the CEO of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu. According to Dr. Chikwe, “we are aware Nigeria has not been as proactive as it should be in taking ownership of the implementation of IHR. but with the commitment we are bringing into this process we look forward to exciting moments that will bring coordination and confidence into the process towards protecting the lives of Nigerians.”
Dr. Mary Stephen of the World Health Organisation also commended the NCDC for bringing together the meeting, she added that “this is a good way forward, Nigeria needs to build on the momentum gathered here today to help achieve desired level of preparedness and disease detection amongst other key outcomes of the IHR”
The Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and management of public health events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) was also represented at the meeting by Dr. Wilfred Haggai, the Team Leader of ICAO CAPSCA Africa Project, who also represented the NCAA. Dr. Haggai commented that, “The leadership and coordination experienced here today gives me the confidence that we will galvanize relevant stakeholder with our port health service to ensure our ports of entry get designated as soon as possible, at least one in the short term.”