By Akpandem James, Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Budget and National Planning
Nigeria and Japan on Tuesday in Abuja exchanged notes on a US$14.2 million grant aid project that will strengthen the diagnostic capacity of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
The signing ceremony carried out by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma for Nigeria and the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Mr Yukata Kikuta for Japan, was witnessed by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewale.
The total cost of the project is put at JPY 1,580,000,00 (One Billion Five Hundred and Eighty Million Japanese Yen), which is an equivalent of USD 14,246m (Fourteen Million Two Hundred and Forty-Six Thousand USD).
Senator Udoma noted that the project is in line with the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which has ‘investing in our people’ as one of the three broad objectives.
“Under the ERGP we are committed to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of healthcare. We are therefore appreciative of the Japanese Government for supporting this project which is directed at improving healthcare in Nigeria”, he said.
While noting that Nigeria, like many other African countries, has had outbreaks of infectious diseases from time to time, the Minister said the Nigerian Government is determined to address emerging public health threats whenever they may occur. He stated however, that “given the limited resources that we have, we therefore appreciate this support given by the Government of Japan to improve and strengthen the work of the NCDC.”
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to achieving sustainable economic development as set out in the ERGP and was appreciative of the support the country continues to receive from the Japanese government.
Minister of Health, Prof Adewale, while acknowledging that this would not be the first time the Japanese Government would be intervening in critical sectors in Nigeria, expressed the hope that the new project will enlarge the capacity of the NCDC to diagnose and treat serious cases. “The health sector is grateful to Japan for this gesture”, he added.
The Japanese Ambassador, Mr Kikuta, stated that Japan has over the years built and maintained consistent partnership with Nigeria towards strengthening and improving Nigeria’s health sector.
While stating that it is a common fact that access to health systems is a key to improving the quality of life of a people and promoting a country’s development, Kikuta pointed out that NCDC plays an essential role in controlling infectious diseases but suffers from a shortage of containment facilities and instruments required for the safe, rapid and accurate handling of infectious diseases.
He observed that the health sector in Nigeria is vulnerable and its ability to deliver services is limited. “In order to take domestic and international countermeasures against infectious diseases specified in the national health policy from now on, it is necessary to expand the building facility and equipment to strengthen the capacity for diagnosis and research of NCDC”, he said.