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Why Nigerian govt must spend more on health – US Ambassador

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington has urged the Federal Government to continue to invest in building resilient health systems for the citizens.

Doing so, he argued, would not only safeguard the people but also act as a strategy to bolster economic transformation in the country.

Symington made this call on Monday during a visit to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Abuja.

According to the Ambassador, the visit reinforced the role NCDC plays as Nigeria’s national public health institute and demonstrates a strong confidence in the long-standing relationship between the US and the Nigerian government.

He said: “As the Government of Nigeria contends with various economic and social priorities, I urge the country to continue to invest in building resilient health systems. This will safeguard citizens and act as a strategy to bolster economic transformation in the nation. The correlation between health security and economic stability for nations cannot be overemphasized.

“Over the years, the US Government has provided support to Nigeria for the prevention, detection, response and control of infectious diseases. Given the interconnectedness of the world today, the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases pose major national and global threats.

“Through the support of the US Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has strengthened its capacity to ensure and contribute to national and global health security

“The experience that I have had during my visit to the NCDC Headquarters has shown me how things can be done efficiently in a public-sector organization,” Symington said.

The Ambassador also reinforced the United State government’s leadership and commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) whose goal is to support countries to strengthen their ability to prevent and respond to epidemics.

“Through the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(US-CDC) we have supported the NCDC to train frontline health workers, strengthen laboratory capacity and disease surveillance across the nation. Particularly laudable among NCDC’s recent achievements, is the coordination of the development of a National Action Plan for Health Security. This plan reinforces the need for multi-sectoral collaborations to fight epidemics and ensure global health security,” he said.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole who received the US Ambassador alongside the Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “this visit is important to NCDC as it has given the agency and the Federal Ministry of Health a platform to share our strategic commitment to national and global health security. The Government of Nigeria has increasingly demonstrated that national governments can take ownership for protecting the health of their citizens. We are grateful to the US Government for the continuous support we receive to strengthen our health sector”.

On his part, Ihekweazu highlighted the progress made by the centre in the prevention, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks across the 36 states and the FCT.

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