The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), have launched a new initiative – the Alliance for Epidemic Preparedness and Response (A4EPR). The aim is to develop a formal structure for the private sector to support the Nigerian government through NCDC, in the prevention, preparedness, detection, response and control of outbreaks in Nigeria.
The A4EPR is designed to address priority areas in health security, focusing on building the capacity to protect the health of Nigerians. These priority areas include – purchase of equipment for outbreak preparedness and response; support to States during outbreaks; advocacy and communications as well as capacity development.
The launch of A4EPR by the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole took place at a Private Sector Roundtable on Health Security in Lagos State. The event had the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Lagos State Commissioner for Health and over fifty representatives from private sector organisations in Nigeria. The roundtable was also an opportunity for government officials and the private sector to discuss public-private partnerships in building resilient health systems to advance the country’s emergency preparedness and response to disease threats.
The recent outbreaks of Lassa fever, Monkeypox, yellow fever, cholera and meningitis have caused significant strain to the nation’s public health sector. In addition to this, these outbreaks affect the country’s economy through loss of labour, reduced productivity and inefficiency of businesses.
The Honourable Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole while launching the A4EPR emphasised that the Federal Ministry of Health is very proud of the initiative and expressed commitment to support the alliance. He cited three key lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak response in Nigeria including strong partnership between State and Federal Governments, public-private partnerships and effective team work.
The event also had a panel discussion with representatives from Dangote Foundation, Total E&P, MTN Foundation, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Facebook and the Lagos State Commissioner for Health. Each panellist shared their organisation’s experience as part of the 2014 Ebola outbreak response and other outbreak response activities, highlighting recommendations and areas for future collaboration.
In describing the efforts to develop an initiative as A4EPR, the CEO of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and his counterpart at PHN, Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq expressed their optimism that will serve as a secure and sustainable platform for public-private partnerships in Nigeria’s health sector.
In the next year, A4EPR will work towards securing commitments from the private sector to achieve its objectives.