ECOWAS Health Experts Call For Governance Framework On National Public Health Issues
Top Experts from around the world in the health sector and ECOWAS Regional Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control, (RCSDC) have called for governance framework on National public health issues in the West Africa Region.
At a media round-table in Abuja, organized by the ECOWAS-RCSDC and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) in collaboration with Chatham House which is the Royal Institute for International Affairs the Chief Executive Officer of NCDC,Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu emphasized that the consensus reached by member states on regional data sharing and material transfer agreements for biological materials would protect the health of citizens of member countries and the region in general.
“In order to have responses, we have to be able to share information in order for us to take public health at (heart). The same thing with specimen once we collect samples from patients. We also need to send it to a lab maybe sometimes outside our country to be tested and diagnosed. In order to do this, we need a governance framework so that we can do this with trust across our different countries so that the benefits of that could also be shared our different countries and globally,” Dr Ihekweazu said.
A senior consulting fellow at Chatham House, David Harper who said that information sharing was important in public health as it ensures that lives are saved, that the meeting would ensure accountability in the ECOWAS sub region for data protection.
“Today’s discussion is really about bringing together in this trusted environment, leading authorities around the world including in Nigeria to discuss how to make progress,”
On her part, another senior consulting fellow at Chatham House,professor Ann-Marie Kimball pointed out that the step taken in information sharing would not only prevent loss of live but prevent economic costs which often accompanied disease outbreaks.
Professor Kimball said the meeting was unifying disease control in the West African region.while control capacity of infectious diseases would improve.
In March 2015, at the seventeenth ordinary assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS, the creation of a Regional Center for Surveillance and Disease Control was recommended. In May 2015, the Highest Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government approved this recommendation and a Regional Center for Disease Surveillance and Control.
This regional coordination center was set-up as a post-Ebola initiative to help the sub-region, under the leadership of West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), strengthen preparedness and response against future public health emergencies. It is believed it is with platforms of this nature that such outbreaks as Ebola and the other major health emergencies can be properly prevented and controlled across borders.