Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for the Environment, who unveiled the policy in Abuja, said the policy would help sustain socio-economic development across the country.
The Inauguration and Public Presentation of the National Biosafety Policy and Action Plan (NBP&AP), 2022-2026, was organized by the Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).
Ikeazor said that biosafety is a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses policy and regulatory frameworks.
Chief Sharon Ikeazor on biosafety policy
He said that the framework includes instruments and activities that analyze and manage risks in the food safety, animal life and health, and plant life and health sectors that have associated environmental risk.
“Focuses on preventing the loss, theft, misuse, diversion, or intentional release of pathogens, toxins, and other related assets against humans, animals, plants, and the environment.
“It also focuses on implementing measures to mitigate emerging and naturally occurring infectious diseases.
“Biosecurity is more important today than ever due to the increasing threats of climate change that is altering the range, habitats and spread of pests and diseases.
“Zoonotic infections, transmitted from animal hosts to humans, are estimated to account for approximately 60 percent of all infectious diseases in humans and 75 percent of all new and emerging infectious diseases.
“The threats that animals pose to humans, as well as the destruction of the environment, cannot be effectively addressed on their own,” he said.
Ikeazor said that the development of the policy recognized that a collaborative, multisectoral and interdisciplinary approach is key to the mitigation of biological threats and the success of any national biosecurity intervention.
He noted that the policy is strategically designed as a five-year plan with the intent of identifying other evolving actions that may not have been captured in the document as implementation began.
“Therefore, all Ministries, Departments and Implementing Agencies (MDA) are tasked with putting all hands on deck to ensure that we implement the policy effectively.
“The MDAs should also help support the ministry through the NBMA in assessing how well we have done in the biosafety sector, as well as providing a critical pathway for the next policy review.
“The obligation in the implementation of this policy is that we play our specific roles and work synergistically with each other in accordance with our respective mandates.
“The mandates ensure strong aggregation and unified efforts that will strengthen the Nigerian National Biosafety System.
“We must also add our efforts at the managerial level to guarantee a better budget and financing mechanism to achieve our strategic plans considering the fact that biosecurity is now a national priority.
“We in the ministry, as a focal point, will do all we can, we will constantly advocate for adequate budget provisions for different implementing MDAs to help achieve their specific biosafety functions in line with their mandates,” the minister said.
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Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Director General of the NBMA, said that the draft biosafety policy and action plan developed and institutionalized a viable and harmonized biosafety system.
Ebegba said the policy is a fundamental approach to minimizing the risks of biological threats to the environment, human health, animals and plants.
He said that the agency’s activity was carried out through a one health approach to agriculture, the environment and human health in full knowledge that the prevention and control of biological threats require effective collaboration between relevant stakeholders.
However, he thanked the minister and other stakeholders for making the policy a reality.
The director general said that the agency, with the collaboration of other relevant stakeholders, would also ensure that the policy is implemented effectively.
Mr. Kevin Tokar, Canadian Acting High Commissioner to Nigeria, said his country would continue to partner with Nigeria to strengthen national and regional biosecurity capacities.
Tokar said the Canadian government had contributed more than $8 million to strengthen Nigeria’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to biological threats.
“Our government will continue its commitment to strengthening biosecurity and health security capacities in Nigeria and Africa,” he said.