In a bid to facilitate the implementation of biosecurity action plan, the Canadian government has invested about $8 million to strengthen Nigena’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to biological threats.
This was carried out through the construction, operation and maintenance of biocontainment laboratones in Lagos and the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Plateau State.
Acting High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, Kevin Toker stated this in Abuja yesterday at the unveiling of Nigena’s 5 -year (2022-2026) National Biosecunty Policy and Action Plan.
He was optimistic that the Canadian-supported laboratones have played a vital role in supporting Nigena’s COVID 19 response throughout the pandemic, especially by enhancing testing capacity.
Toker said that Canada’s continued commitment to strengthen biosecunty and health secunty in Africa was reflected in its ‘Signature initiative to Mitigate Biological Threats in Africa, which is currently implemented by the G7-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.
According to him, “The aim of the initiative, which is being delivered in close collaboration with the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and other African partners including the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is to reduce bio-threats by aligning the activities of the Global Partnership and African countries in order to achieve shared objectives.”
He was confident that Nigena’s National Biosecurity Policy and Acton Plan would support the evolution and impact of the Signature initiative as well as encourage Nigerian stakeholders to play an active part in brainstorming on biosafety and biosecuriity; national governance structures, surveillance and epidemic inteligence, and non-proliferation.
Toker stated that Canada is proud of its longstanding partnership with Nigena to strengthen national and regional biosecurity capabilites, saying that both countries’ partnership that dates back to over a decade, was strengthened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Environment, Barr Sharon Ikeazor estimated that zoonotic infections, transmitted from animal hosts to humans, account for 60 percent of total infectious diseases in humans, and 75 percent of all new and emerging infectious diseases.
She said that the threats posed by pathogens jumping from animals to humans as well as the destruction of the environment cannot be resolved effectively by one sector alone.
The minister added, “Issues of biosecurity affect the entire nation and transcends personal or institution’s interest. We must therefore take the implementation of this document extremely serious and look beyond our sectorial interest to rather focus on the contribution of the achievement of our several sectorial action plans to the security and welfare of our ecosystem and the nation at large”.
While benchmarking a success rate of 70 percent in the implementation of the policy by 2026, she was hopeful that Nigeria would have improved its biosecurity system within the time-frame.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019 assented to the bill amending the National Biosafety Management Agency Act (2015) to include “putting measures in place to ensure biosecurity in Nigeria” thereby mandating the National Biosafety Management Agency(NBMA) to coordinate issues of biosecurity in Nigeria.
— Chika Okeke is a journalist with MOC and the Publisher/ Editor of Bennyokeke.blogspot.com, an online news platform.
She joined the services of LEADERSHIP Media Group in 2008 as a Reporter where she rose through the ranks as a Senior Reporter to Deputy Editor Daily, Deputy Editor, LEADERSHIP Sunday and Deputy Editor, LEADERSHIP Friday.
During her sojourn in LEADERSHIP Media Group, she had covered the activities of FCT Area Councils, Ministries of Tourism and National Orientation, Works & Housing and Environment.
With over one decade in journalism, she was able to explore various reporting and writing techniques such as feature writing, editing, investigation and editing, with over over 300 publications to her credit.
She has covered workshops and conferences, both in Nigeria and abroad.
She is currently the Treasurer, Environment Media Correspondents Association of Nigeria (EMCAN) and a member of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).