The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday in Abuja signed a memorandum of understanding with Public Health England (PHE) in a bid to strengthen international disease control across borders.
With this agreement, the British public health institute would be helping Nigeria and four other countries to improve their International Health Regulations (IHR) in disease prevention, detection and control.
This partnership is coming days after two patients were diagnosed and hospitalised for monkeypox in the UK.
The two patients were found to have travelled from Nigeria where there was an outbreak of the disease last year.
The MoU signed by both parties is part of a £16 million project funded by the British Department of Health to support capacities of public health institutes in five countries including Nigeria.
This is aimed at strengthening health security in the countries to reduce incidence of diseases trans-border crossing.
In Nigeria, the project will focus on disease surveillance, emergency preparedness and response, public health laboratory services as well as workforce development.
The outfit and NCDC are expected to collaborate in knowledge sharing, capacity building, laboratory upgrading aimed at achieving accreditation standards.
This would contribute to ensuring the world is much safer and less vulnerable from the threat of infectious diseases, officials say.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, at the signing called for strong collaboration among public health institutes to ensure global health security.
“The United Kingdom recognises that we must work closely with other countries in our efforts to build strong and resilient health systems globally,” he said.
The chief executive of PHE, Duncan Selbie, in his remarks said the IHR project is a “partnership and invaluable opportunity for both countries to learn from each other”.
He said by working together and sharing expertise, both countries would become stronger in tackling diseases and control and “that is the aim of the project”.
He added that the ultimate goal is to share knowledge, to be able to improve disease surveillance, increase technical understanding of the disease which would result in vaccine production to tackle most of the diseases in Nigeria.
NCDC will coordinate the IHR strengthening programme and provide staff to drive collaboration with the federal ministry of health and environment as well as agriculture and rural development, it was learnt.
The NCDC chief executive, Chikwe Ihekweazu said the agency is grateful to the British government for this opportunity “which formalises and strengthens the existing relationship between NCDC and PHE”.
He said the unit is looking forward to building to the cooperation, for national and global health security.
“IHR comprises all activities from prevention, detection and control of diseases. In recognition (of the fact) that we live in a global world and the diseases we face are common, we started this partnership with PHE and together we designed the programme activities for five years,” he explained.
Mr Ihekweazu said the “strengthening of health security in Nigeria will contribute to the strengthening of international global health”.