By Busayo Onijala
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Georgetown University have collaborated to equip 40 health officials with professional training.
The training, which ran for two weeks, certified participants drawn from the health sector in the Public Health Emergency Management Professional Certification (PHEM PC).
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the knowledge, competencies, and skill set taught in the course will help officials coordinate public health emergencies.
Claire Pierangelo, Consul General of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, at the closing ceremony of the PHEM training on Friday, said that the U.S. was committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.
L-R: Dr. Mary Boyd, US-CDC, Claire Pierangelo, U.S. Consul General, training participant and former NCDC Chief, Chikwe Ihekweazu
This, she said was through initiatives and training that increased disease prevention, detection and response.
Pierangelo stressed the U.S. government’s commitment and prioritisation of PHEM as Nigeria worked towards achieving the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) 2024 targets and meeting the International Health Regulations (IHR) requirements.
“The targets and requirements would be achieved by strengthening workforce development, disease surveillance, emergency response, and laboratory capacity.
“Emergency management is one of the eleven capacity building areas prioritised by the U.S. government in its support of Nigeria.
“We envision expanding the PHEM capacity across Nigeria by training more stakeholders to ensure adequate knowledge, competencies and skills to efficiently manage technical operations,” she said.
Dr. Mary Boyd, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(US-CDC) Country Director, urged participants to utilise new information gotten from the training.
She said, “From here on out is where the real work begins, participants are not going out without support and there are mentors who will be reaching out to them.
“We expect that the training that has been received will be brought to bear in responding to the pandemic and other emergency situations.”
Boyd said the US government’s commitment to support and strengthen Nigeria’s health security had never been more important than it was now, adding that the training was another demonstration of the strategic partnership and commitment between both countries.
According to her, the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC are doing a great job by prioritising pandemic preparedness in Nigeria.
Dr. Bola Gobir, Georgetown University Resident Director, represented by Ms Mercy Niyang, said that the PHEM PC was designed on quality standards that guided the teaching of global best practices across public health and disaster management.
“These standards also guide the continuous improvement in practice and implementation of the learning objectives as well as institutionalising the PHEM Professional Development Programme as an academy within the NCDC.
“Georgetown Center for Global Health Practice and Impact through a cooperative agreement with the USCDC is delighted to have served as a technical partner to NCDC in implementing the PHEM intermediate certificate course.
“I will strongly recommend sustaining this collaborative opportunities with an emphasis in continuous quality improvement and an intentional follow up on identified gaps for improvement.”
Also, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, former Director-General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control(NCDC), stressed the important role played by capacity development at all levels.
According to him, the ability to manage public health emergencies continues to improve as long as necessary attention is given to capacity development.
“We will continue to collaborate with the US-CDC to ensure that we have the workforce needed at the sub-national level.
“It will take a while and there will be challenges but it will come together if we begin to make use of all that has been learnt from this training
“Everything being done at the NCDC today is focused on a strategic goal of supporting our state teams to develop,” Ihekweazu said.