9 November 2023 | Abuja - Nigeria Holds its National One Health Steering Committee Inaugural Meeting
According to the World Health Organization, over 60% of known and emerging infectious diseases globally are zoonotic. Also, Nigeria is among the top ten countries rated with the highest burden of infectious and zoonotic diseases in the world. Increased risk of transmission of these zoonoses is primarily due to the rising human population and the need for food (through farming and hunting); urbanisation leading to human encroachment on animal ecosystems; and the narrowing of the animal-human interphase in the environment resulting in closer interactions with wildlife. Despite the huge burden of endemic zoonoses and the increased risks of the emergence of novel zoonotic diseases, there is little awareness about zoonosis, even among health professionals in Nigeria. While there is no single intervention that can address all zoonoses, it is now increasingly recognised that the establishment of multi-sectoral collaborative mechanisms using the principle of ONE HEALTH is the most efficient strategy to address existing and emerging zoonoses.
One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach, working at local, national, regional, and global levels to achieve optimal health outcomes by recognising the interconnectedness of people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. One Health brings together professionals across the human health, animal health and environmental health sectors to solve challenges in preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. It has recently gained momentum due to the emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola virus disease, Lassa fever, mpox, avian influenza and COVID-19.
Nigeria has made significant gains in stakeholder engagement through its various One Health networks: the National One Health Technical Committee, National One Health Coordinating Unit (NOHCU), National One Health Risk Surveillance and Information Sharing (NOHRSIS) group, and several Technical Working Groups (TWGs) for zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and food safety. However, even more higher-level participation and engagement of ministerial leadership across the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies are required including cascading these down to the lowest subnational level.
As part of the commemoration of the 2023 World One Health Day, which is marked annually on the November 3rd, Nigeria inaugurated its National One Health Ministerial Steering Committee. This high-level meeting which had Prof. Muhammed Ali Pate, Honourable Coordinating Minister for Health & Social Welfare, Senator (Dr.) Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture & Food Security, Dr. Ishak Salako, the Honourable Minister of State for the Environment and Ecological Management, and the representative of the Honourable Minister of Water Resources, Prof. Joseph Utsev in attendance, marks a significant milestone in the country's commitment to a One Health in its national health and economic security agenda. The National One Health Steering Committee will lead communication, coordination, and collaboration among all stakeholders across all levels of government working in animal, human, and environmental health.
Nigeria responds to concurrent outbreaks of infectious diseases and faces the emergence and spread of associated challenges including antimicrobial resistance, there is a need to bring together professionals across various sectors and disciplines to coordinate, collaborate, communicate, and develop capacity towards solving major challenges to human health. The inaugural meeting of this high-level National One Health Steering Committee (NOHSC) will provide the much impetus to drive the implementation of strategic plans for One Health in Nigeria through active alliance and joint action of all stakeholders.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission of the NCDC is to protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a One Health approach, guided by research, and led by a skilled workforce.
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Dr Ifedayo Adetifa
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.