The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has pledged its collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to strengthen community resilience against epidemic in the country.
Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi, Director-general, NEMA, made the pledge on Wednesday in Abuja when he received a delegation from WEF in his office.
He said the collaboration was timely and of importance in view of the discovery that epidemic and diseases are the leading causes of death in Nigeria.
He disclosed that NEMA was putting in place plans of situating epidemics and diseases control at the centre of its risk reduction and preparedness activities.
Sani-Sidi disclosed that the top 10 natural deaths in Nigeria compiled in the Emergency Management Data Base (EM-DAT) indicated high numbers of deaths were caused exclusively by epidemic.
According to him, indicators had shown that the high rate of infection and fatality from the epidemics arises due to illiteracy, ignorance, poor state of personal and environmental hygiene.
He noted other causes to include the absence of a well functional community based early detection, reporting and surveillance systems.
He said the agency on realising the inevitability of pandemics and its grave consequences sought the support of the United States of America to develop some contingency plans.
Sani-Sidi said theyinclude the Nigeria National Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, the Armed Forces of Nigeria Pandemic Contingency Plan and the Military Assistance to Civil Authorities.
He said the Nigeria National Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan was unveiled to the Country on Nov. 14, 2013, and handed over to the then Minister of Health.
The director-general noted that about eight months after unveiling the plan, came the outbreak of Ebola which Nigeria achieved a high degree of success in containing the pandemic.
He attributed the success to the fact that Nigeria did not start from zero level because there was already a plan that recognised the need for the society’s wide preparedness and action.
Earlier, Mr David McLachlan-Kar, Leader of the delegation, said the visit was aimed at interacting with the agency to explore how the private sector can be engaged in emergency response.
McLachlan-Kar a Senior Advisor, Partnership in Global Health and Care, WEF, said the private sector were presently underutilised not properly recognised in pandemic and disaster response.
He said it was on that note the WEF was initiating a project in Nigeria, Sierra Lone, Mali and Guinea to strengthen public/private sector partnership in pandemic and disaster management.
According to him, there is urgent need to strengthen public/private partnership and investment to strengthen the response capacity of a country.
McLachlan-Kar Commended the response of Nigeria in containing the Ebola pandemic as the response was decisive and well coordinated.
He said the forum was looking forward to a successful collaboration with Nigeria as the country would be the focal point of the project.