The Federal Government has renewed its commitment to support the West Africa Centre for Disease Control (WACDC) to enhance disease surveillance system in the region.
The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, made this known at the opening ceremony of the 18th ECOWAS Assembly of Health Ministers in Abuja on Friday.
Osinbajo said that access to healthcare remained a significant problem in the region and called for more efforts to control communicable and emerging health challenges in West Africa.
He urged ECOWAS member states to ensure that the region was always prepared and not to be taken unaware by any outbreak of diseases that would lead to colossal loss of lives in the region.
“Member states should ensure that no effort is left out in ensuring a resilient health system in the region’’, stressing that Nigeria remained committed to the aspirations of the regional centre for disease control.
The acting president however noted that key to shortening the journey to a resilient health system in ECOWAS was a greater commitment to the mandate of the regional centre and leverage on technology.
Osinbajo commended the leadership of WAHO for living up to its noble objectives in ensuring a sound health system for the African region.
The Chairman of the Assembly of Health Ministers and Health Minister of Togo, Mr Mustafa Mijiyawa, said the body would consider and review health situation in the region and take decisions to ensure improved health.
Mijiyawa expressed delight that the assembly would adopt the “One Health Approach’’ towards combatting diseases and outbreak of epidemics in the region.
He reminded his colleagues that synergy was required to achieve the objectives of the scheme in the region.
The chairman also appealed to Member States and partners to double support for WAHO, assuring that Togo was committed to the ideals of the organisation.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said Nigeria would provide infrastructural support to the centre.
Adewole said that the WACDC has been well positioned to address regional health emergencies.
He described WAHO as a critical component of ECOWAS which strives to enhance human and capital development as well as healthcare system in the region.
According to him, health should not be seen as a resource consuming sector; but as a sector that contributes to the economic development of every nation.
Adewole urged regional health ministers to strengthen the health system and deliver high impact interventions to enhance economic development in the region.
The minister said the meeting was designed to set out priorities to address the shortage of human resources for health through task shifting, stressing that Nigeria has already adopted a task shifting policy.
Adewole also tasked the ministers to invest in data collation to enable ECOWAS member states feasible and evidence based programmes that would address the challenges of non-communicable diseases in the region.