The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), have launched a new initiative known as the Alliance for Epidemic Preparedness and Response (A4EPR) to check disease outbreaks.
According to the two bodies, the aim of the initiative is to develop a formal structure for the private sector to support the Nigerian government through NCDC, in the prevention, preparedness, detection, response and control of outbreaks in Nigeria.
The NCDC says A4EPR was designed to address priority areas in health security, focusing on building the capacity to protect the health of Nigerians. These priority areas the centre noted, include – purchase of equipment for outbreak preparedness and response; support to states during outbreaks; advocacy and communications as well as capacity development.
The Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, launched A4EPR during a Private Sector Roundtable on Health Security held in Lagos recently.
The event had the Minister of State for Health, Lagos State Commissioner for Health and over fifty representatives from private sector organisations in Nigeria including Dangote Group, MTN Nigeria, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Total E&P among others in attendance .
The roundtable according to the organisers, was an opportunity for government officials and the private sector to discuss public-private partnerships in building resilient health systems to advance the country’s emergency preparedness and response to disease threats.
Stakeholders at the event stated that the recent outbreaks of Lassa fever, Monkeypox, yellow fever, cholera and meningitis have caused significant strain on the nation’s public health sector, adding that these outbreaks affect the country’s economy through loss of labour, reduced productivity and inefficiency of businesses.
In his remarks during the launch, Adewole emphasised that the Federal Ministry of Health is happy and proud of the initiative while expressing commitment to supporting the alliance.
He cited strong partnership between state and Federal Governments, public-private partnerships and effective team work as three key lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak response in Nigeria which he said must be sustained.
Commenting on the potentials of the new initiative in achieving health security in Nigeria, the CEO of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and his counterpart at PHN, Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, expressed the optimism that A4EPR would serve as a secure and sustainable platform for public-private partnerships in Nigeria’s health sector.
The event also witnessed a panel discussion with representatives from Dangote Foundation, Total E&P, MTN Foundation, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Facebook and the Lagos State Commissioner for Health.
Each panelist shared their organisations’ experience as part of the 2014 Ebola outbreak response and other outbreak response activities, highlighting recommendations and areas for future collaboration.
Affirming that in the next year, A4EPR would work towards securing commitments from the private sector to achieve its objectives.