19 October 2021 | Abuja – Reflecting on the NCDC’s Transformational Journey and Welcoming Dr Adetifa Ifedayo as the New NCDC Director General
On 6th September 2021, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of Dr Adetifa Ifedayo as the new Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). This was following the appointment of Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the outgoing NCDC Director General, as Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to head its new pandemic intelligence hub in Berlin from 1st November 2021.
The official handover ceremony held on 18th October 2021 and was declared open by the Honourable Minister of Health– Dr Osagie Ehanire. The ceremony was also an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable transformation journey of NCDC in implementing it’s 5-year strategic plan for national health security in line with its mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies. Under the leadership of Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu since 15th of August 2016, the agency has witnessed transformational growth from a young parastatal to a science-based institution leading the public health response to the largest pandemic in recent history under the Federal Ministry of Health.
Despite the general pessimism at the ability of public institutions to deliver on their mandate, Dr. Ihekweazu’s vision was to build the confidence of Nigerians in the NCDC as the body established to protect the health of citizens. His visionary leadership at NCDC enabled the establishment of strategic partnerships and exponential investment in research, infrastructure, and human capital development critical to strengthen Nigeria’s health security. After five years of leading the NCDC, Dr Ihekweazu spoke on his handover to Dr Adetifa:
“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead our young agency,” said Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC’s first Director General. “Dr Adetifa is a proven leader with strong epidemiology, academic and research background as well as the ability to bring people together. His vision for effective utilisation of scientific-evidence to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies is exactly what NCDC needs build on the gains achieved so far.”
The incoming DG, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa is a Clinical Epidemiologist with a strong public health and research background. Prior to his appointment, he was an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Dr Adetifa received his undergraduate medical training at the University of Ilorin and completed his residency training in paediatrics at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria. He holds an MSc in Epidemiology from LSHTM and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Amsterdam. Read more about Dr Adetifa’s work here.
While accepting the baton of leadership from the outgoing NCDC Director General, Dr Adetifa spoke on his plans for the future with NCDC:
“I must congratulate Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu and the NCDC Team for the incredible work they have done so far, for Chikwe’s exemplary leadership, and for the smooth transition process. For several years now, I have closely followed the activities of the agency without any inkling that I would ever be the one to lead it. My focus in the next few weeks is to work with colleagues and partners to understand their work better so we can collectively build on the gains made so far, in line with the NCDC mandate.”
The handover ceremony was also an opportunity to reflect on NCDC’s contribution to health security and nation building. Attendees included representatives of the National Assembly, heads of government institutions, Country Heads of United Nations Agencies, members of the diplomatic corps, other health security partners including the private sector. They shared their experience working with the NCDC and reiterated commitment to sustaining collaborative efforts with the incoming Director General to achieve the NCDC mandate.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control 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 for 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 skilled workforce’.
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Dr Yahya Disu
Head of Communications
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control