Recognising the role of One Health (OH) coordination in improving country compliance to the International Health Regulations (IHR) for global health security, UKHSA was very pleased to support the inauguration of Nigeria’s National One Health Technical Committee (NOHTC) on Friday 17th February 2023.

The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee were agreed during the development of the 5-year strategic plan (2019 – 2023) for OH in Nigeria, which was endorsed by the three (3) Line Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development and Environment. The aim of the NOHTC, as stipulated in the OH Strategic Plan, is to supervise the operation of the National One Health Coordinating Unit (NOHCU). The NOHTC is also to provide technical advice on national OH coordination to the ministerial level, in the form of the National One Health Steering Committee (NOHSC).

The keynote address from the chair of the committee, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa (Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, NCDC), highlighted the dependence of health outcomes on not only human factors, but also animal and environment factors and spoke to the importance of ensuring that OH coordination is filtered to the sub-national level for holistic impact. The Committee co-chair in the person of the Ag. Chief Veterinary Of Nigeria (CVON), Dr Samuel Anzaku, emphasised on the need for coordination and communication within the relevant sectors, highlighting that “The most use of this interaction as members of the coordinating unit is to cascade OH perspective to the different sectors”. Fellow Committee co-chair, Director of Pollution Control and Environmental Health, Mr Olusanya, informed the committee of the various activities the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMEnv) has embarked on to effectively function in OH and fulfil their role as part of the committee. Some of which include a National policy on AMR and strategic plan for the environmental sector, National Environmental Response team on Lassa fever, Inter-ministerial Committee on National Environmental Sanitation Programme and Waste Management as well as sanitation desk office in all the States of the Federation to coordinate sanitation and public health activities within their States in consonance with their respective Local Government environmental health departments.

UK Health Security Agency’s International Health Regulations (IHR) Strengthening Project Lead in Nigeria, Dr Olusola Aruna, expressed her joy in being able to push for the inaugural meeting of the NOHTC as part of the ongoing commitment to operationalise OH in Nigeria, whilst enjoining Committee members to review the ToR and be guided by its provisions going forwards.

The quadripartite made up of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),  World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH),  UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO)  , as well as other development partners and academia present expressed their excitement and commitment to working with all stakeholders to advance OH governance in Nigeria.

OH has been accepted by universities, and many training programs have revised their curriculum to include OH

– Prof Junaidu Kabir – Ahmadu Bello University Zaria

The actual work, the experimenting, the learning is where the work is and we are glad that the NOHTC will ensure that the strategic plan, surveillance work, research, outbreak, JRA and all other documents created can be implemented

– Dr Patrick Nguku - AFENET

The inaugural meeting set the stage for fine tuning the ToR for the NOHTC, as well as provided members a breakdown of its membership, functions and statutory duties which will be instrumental in the upcoming revision of the OH Strategic Plan which will be coming to an end in 2023. The meeting also agreed on the date and tentative agenda item for a follow-on meeting, which will be preparatory to the inaugural meeting of the Ministerial level OH Steering Committee. The OH Coordinating Unit also highlighted some coordination activities carried out since the development of the OH Strategic Plan, including the establishment of the UKHSA supported National One Health Risk Surveillance Information Sharing group (NOHRSIS), a horizon scanning group that was inaugurated for the purpose of risk surveillance.

This inaugural meeting shows the growing commitment to the principles of OH amongst the stakeholders in Nigeria and its effective implementation. 

By Dr Jerry Pantuvo, Dr Olusola Aruna, Ijeoma Anya