Biosafety Agency partners WHO on biosecurity policy

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Country Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Philip Zorto has assured the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) of WHO’s continuous support to complete its policy document of Nigerian biosecurity.

Dr Zorro noted that the policy document sets out guidelines for regulating chemicals used both for farming and for biological purposes.

The Country Representative disclosed this at the Second National Review Meeting of the Draft National Biosecurity Policy Action Plan, held on Wednesday in Abuja.

He expressed hope that before the end of the year, the policy document will be completed and presented to the Federal Executive Council and will be adopted as a working document for Nigeria.

He said the policy document is one of the global best practices considering the fact that we are having a high rate of diseases transferred from animal to man which is affecting human beings.

“So, all over the world, people are coming together to ensure that under the One Health approach, people from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, agriculture, come together under one health approach and ensure that human beings are protected all the biothreat biohazard.

“WHO will continue to support the Federal government of Nigeria to ensure that the policy document is completed before the end of this year, and become a working document”, he noted.

The Director-General of NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba is address, said the issue of biosecurity has become a global issue, taking into cognisance of the recent outbreak of various diseases which is a result of infectious organisms.

“The issue of biosecurity cuts across boundaries. The world must stand together to ensure that infectious organisms are properly contained.

“We recognise the role played by WHO that has supported this process right the zero draft presentation, first presentation and this current presentation for review.

“The role of WHO shows that they have the world at large as their territory. WHO has a major role to play to ensure that everyone on earth is secured? It is that role that is playing by supporting this process,” Ebegba said.

He said the NBMA mandate was expanded in 2019 to include the issues of biosecurity, and the agency is going to play the role of coordination.

“We are aware that there are various ministries, agencies and departments playing various roles on issues on biosecurity, these roles will remain with those organizations, we will support those roles, and this policy is to strengthen those roles and the law to ensure that anyone that uses biological agents maliciously will be prosecuted and the person or organization will face the full wrath of the law.

“Nigeria as a country must be secured; it is on that note that the federal government sees the issue of this national biosecurity policy as a major national assignment.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment who was represented by Mrs Bolanle Ajayi, said “this journey so far in developing this policy to meet international best practices taking into consideration our national priorities has been worthwhile.

“An achievement credited to collective consciousness to safeguard our ecosystem from threats arising from intentional or unintentional use of valuable biological materials.”