Friday, July 8, 2016 12:00 am
The West African Health Organization (WAHO) has appointed Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi of Nigeria as the Acting Executive Director of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Surveillance and Disease Control Centre (RCDC).
Prof. Nasidi is the country coordinator, National Centre for Disease Control NCDC.
His appointment was announced Thursday by Dr. Xavier Crespin at the inaugural meeting of the Governing Board of the RCDC in Abuja.
He also disclosed that works are in progress on the proposed ECOWAS Regional Rapid Response Team (ERRRT) “ECOWAS White Force”. The team, when established is expected to respond to any disease outbreak within the region.
Crespin explained that the selection process of members of the team was already in progress and it is expected to be in place by September 2016.
He said: “On the recommendation of the Director General of WAHO and in accordance with Article 16 of the ECOWAS Regulation on the “Creation and Functioning Modalities of ECOWAS Regional Surveillance and Disease Control Centre”, Professor Abdulsalami Nasidi was appointed by the President of the EOWAS Commission as the Acting Executive Director.”
“However, the proposed selection of members of the EVOWAS Regional Rapid Response Team (ERRRT) “ECOWAS WHITE FORCE”, cannot be done at this meeting, as the selection process is still ongoing in the countries,” he further explained.
Adding that, “we expect the Governing Council to provide relevant suggestions that will expedite this process to enable us put together this team by September 2016.”
On the inaugural meeting of the board of RCDC, Crespin said that the governing council has the task of supervising the activities of the centre in strict compliance with ECOWAS rules and regulations.
While also warning that the task before the council were high, NAHO DG however said the organization has what it takes to deliver best practice for disease surveillance and control.
Also, Nigeria Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Oluwole who declared open the inaugural meeting of RCDC revealed that the African Union (AU) has designated this centre as the West African coordinating centre for the Africa centre for the Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC).
He also revealed that one of the first assignments of RCDC would be the hosting of the 6th African field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and 1st RCDC Scientific conference for enhancing global health security through field epidemiology training programs slated for August.
Prof. Adewole also assured RCDC of the country’s willingness to provide the necessary infrastructure for the immediate operationalization of the EVOWAS RCDC.
RCDC has four main responsibilities- increased surveillance and information systems for early detention; strengthening of Laboratory capacity; preparedness and emergency response; and retention of trained healthcare workforce.
The decision to establish the RCDC was reached following the devastating impact of the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Lassa Fever in West Africa, with far reaching economic effects in the three most affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The idea was endorsed at the 48th EOWAS Summit of the Heads of States and Government held in Abuja in December, 2015.
The outbreak exposed the weakness of the region’s health systems, an indication of a lack of readiness to respond effectively to serious health security threat in line with the core capacities outlined by the International Health Regulations (IHR).
Nigeria’s role in curtailing the spread of these disease in the region was deciding factor for the siting of R DC in the country.
In his goodwill remark, United States (US) Centre for Disease Control (CDC) country coordinator, Dr. Tom Nickson urged the region not to devout so much energy at other aspect like building and equipment at the expense of human capacity building.
Constant training and retraining of the workforce, he argued was of importance to the success of the centre.
Other partners at the inaugural meeting of the governing council like JICA, Red Cross and others pledges their support towards the success of the centre.
The National Assembly also pledged it’s support towards the success of the centre for the good of the region, and that of the people of Nigeria.