The African Union has adopted Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, as one of its five Regional Collaborating Centres for Disease Control.
The five centres are in Gabon (Central Africa); Kenya (East Africa); Egypt (North Africa); Zambia (Southern Africa); and Nigeria (West Africa)
The Director Department of Social Affairs of the AU Commission, Ambassador Olawale Maiyegun, disclosed this to journalists at the NCDC secretariat located in Jabi area of Abuja, after an assessment tour of the facility by the AU team.
According to him, the centre has satisfied all the requirements of the AU and can function optimally.
The facility, he added, has satisfied all the four main conditions which the AU considers for granting such status.
They are government commitment, human resources, infrastructure and funding.
Maiyegun however explained that the only area where the team observed to be below par at the centre was its laboratory.
He promised that the AU and the Federal Government would ensure the laboratory meet required standard.
“We will support that institution. It is the asset that it has that is making AU to say we can give you additional responsibilities. We will, as much as possible, cover the cost of additional responsibilities that we will be putting on them”, Maiyegun stated.
Until its adoption by the AU, NCDC had played the dual role of national and regional centre for disease control: that is, working for Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States.
Maiyegun informed newsmen that the AU and partners, US and China Centres for Disease Control among others, would provide more facilities and train personnel at the institution.
He said that the adoption was a fulfillment of determination of Heads of States and governments of the AU who had at a special summit on HIV, TB and Malaria in 2013 decided on the need for an African Centre for Disease Control that would conduct live-saving research and that would also have capability of disease detection, surveillance and response.
According to him, AU wants an Africa CDC that will not re-invent the wheel, that will build on existing structure, and that will leverage on the existing assets on ground.
He said, “And, so, in the concept that they approved in January 2015, we are to have a coordinating office inside the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, but with five regional collaborating centres; each bringing certain capabilities and assets and value to the work of the Africa CDC.
“We are happy to note that from what we have seen on ground, that indeed Nigeria CDC can take on those responsibilities that are about to be entrusted to it. However, as we look at some of the strengths that they are bringing to the table, we find that the human resources are very strong. They have very strong and powerful field epidemiological and collaborative training. It is a huge asset that will help or facilitate the fulfilment of core capacity of international health regulations. We are very happy about this.”