Federal Government in collaboration with the ECOWAS had concluded plans to establish the Regional Centre for Disease Control with headquarters in Abuja.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Linus Awute, made this known at the technical committee meeting of the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) in Abuja.
Awute said disease control and epidemic prevention were among the main concerns and priority of the ECOWAS, especially with the region’s experience of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
He said the centre would address the fragile nature of the sub-region’s health systems and improve capacity to prevent, diagnose and control epidemics.
According to him, the Health Ministers, at the 16th Ordinary Assembly in Niamey, agreed to establish a Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention with the Headquarters in Nigeria.
Awute said this decision was ratified at the 47th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held on May 19 in Accra, Ghana.
Dr Xavier Crespin, Director-General, West African Health Organisation (WAHO), said the Technical Committee Meeting was to validate all documents for the creation and establishment of the ECOWAS Centre for Disease Control.
He said the final document to be produced would be presented to the Assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS for ratification next month in Dakar, Senegal.
“We are also working on how the centre will work; its status and network with all the national coordinating institutions in the ECOWAS member countries.
“The documents are already before the experts and partners, they are making their inputs and contributions for onward transmission to the next assembly of the ministers of health.
“15 partners are in attendance and all the ECOWAS member states were represented.
“It is a good decision because Nigeria has a good experience in the area of fighting disease and epidemics.
“Nigeria also has a Centre for Disease Control, and some partners are already working with the centre.
“We know that they can deliver and they can do the work we are expecting them to do not for Nigeria only but for the whole of West African Sub-region.
“ This is why the Regional Centre for Disease Control headquarters will be in Abuja, Nigeria.
“It is not only the containment of Ebola; even before that, we know that the Nigeria CDC is also doing a good job in fighting disease and control of epidemics.
“The Nigerian Centre is also doing a good job in the epidemiology surveillance and health information systems, so it is based on this experience that Nigeria has been chosen,” Crespin said.
Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, National Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said 60 per cent of the disease outbreaks that occurred in Africa in the last five years, occurred in West Africa.
“So if we can get West Africa really organised to improve on its emergency preparedness and response, and our ability to do what we want to do before outside help.
“ We can enhance our abilities to prevent diseases early and prevent them from occurring and controlling the disease when they started,’’ he said. (NAN)