The Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) and its two consortium partners, the Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC) and the Gem Hub Initiative (GHI), have been awarded a $25,000 grant by the African Health Budget Network (AHBN) to bolster the Global Health Security Agenda in Nigeria.
Dr. Celestine Okorie, the Executive Secretary of HERFON, announced this development during a press briefing held in Abuja on Thursday.
The grant, Okorie disclosed, is allocated for an 18-month duration and is titled: “Strengthening Accountability for Health Security Finances and Vaccines Equitable Access in Nigeria.”
What he said
Okorie elaborated that the grant is intended to support advocacy efforts geared toward enhancing our capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health incidents that threaten our overall well-being.
- “Given this, we recently participated in the Africa Regional Advocacy Summit for NGOs and Media organized by the AHBN in its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
- “Stakeholders from eight African countries participated in the summit and exchanged ideas on strengthening Africa’s health security.
- “We also participated in the recently concluded Joint External Evaluation – Health Security Action Plan organized by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) where a diverse team of experts, collectively evaluated our nation’s preparedness and response capacities across 19 technical areas, under the guidance of relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
- “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a valuable lesson that we must strengthen our national health security preparedness,” he said.
Okorie praised the Federal Government’s efforts in crafting the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS 2018-22) and establishing the Public Health Emergency and Outbreak Response Fund (PHEORF), which is currently under the administration of the NCDC.
In addition, Mrs Chika Offor, Chairperson of the Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC), emphasized the critical necessity for the nation to mobilize its internal resources to support its national health security objectives.
- “We need to look inwards rather than relying on multilateral organizations like the WHO and others to tackle our health security challenges.
- “We take cognizance of the fact that the present budget line for health security is not much,” she said
Offor, who also serves as the founder of VNDC, urged the federal government to allocate full funding for the national health security agenda, emphasizing that the country cannot afford to be ill-prepared during future epidemics or pandemics.
To enhance transparency and accountability within the national security agenda, she proposed that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should be granted a permanent seat at the decision-making table during the formulation and execution of the national health security agenda, as CSOs possess the capacity to monitor accountability on behalf of the broader civil society.
Additionally, Mrs. Oyeyemi Pitan, Executive Director of GHI, stressed the importance of improved coordination in both the development and implementation phases of the National Health Security Agenda. He said,
- “The federal government needs to strengthen the coordination and include specific critical stakeholders in the process such as the office of the National Security Adviser: we are talking about our capacity as a nation to prevent, detect and respond to public health events which can threaten the lives of millions of Nigerians.
- “The office of the NSA must be involved in this process. The National Biosafety Management Agency should also be involved as a critical stakeholder.
- “The office of the Special Adviser to the President on Health should be part of the coordination for us to respond effectively on health security,” she said.
She explained that the approach encompasses a cooperative, multisectoral, and interdisciplinary strategy that acknowledges the interconnectedness among humans, animals, and plants.