Nigeria in recent time was bedeviled with lots of problems ranging from insurgency, attack by bandits, Herdsmen attacks and the only way to surmount these challenges is by keeping healthy and vibrant soldiers who are fit to protect territorial integrity of the nation.
The revelation were made by the Honourable Minister of Defence Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali while receiving in audience the visiting Ministry of Defence Health Implementation Programme Team, who was on a courtesy visit to the Ministry,
The Minister said that the partnership programme has been able to provide medical facilities, not only to the military personnel, but also to the civilian populace, and because of the importance of the programme, an approval has been given for an additional engagement of about five (5) staff to work in the Reference Laboratory in preparation for the fourth coming commissioning of the project in June, 2018.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa commended the partnership ,stating that the relationship between the two countries has been extremely beneficial, especially now that Nigeria is undergoing arrays of challenges.
She observed that the Joint Co-operation between the two countries on the health implementation programme has endured ,with established of four centers and this according to her has increased to forty six (46) within the period of seven years; adding that about 9,590 personnel has been trained, while others are still undergoing training.
Earlier in his speech, the Director General, Minister of Defence Health Implementation Programme, Brigadier General N.A.A Hussein, stated that the programme was initiated as a result of high prevalence of HIV among soldiers who participated in peace support operations in Liberia, and since the inception of the programme, the prevalence of HIV among Nigerian Troops has dropped from the initial 3.2 percent to 2.5 percent.
The DG commended the visiting team, whom he said have contributed immensely to capacity building, not only in Nigeria, but also in Liberia and Ghana respectively.
He further stated that the programme has the best laboratories in Nigeria with the state of the art equipment acquired for Lagos center where diseases like Ebola, Lassa fever, Monkey pox and many other deadly diseases can be promptly diagnosed and analyzed here in Nigeria as against sending it abroad.
Also contributing, the Country Director Mr. Robert Nelson stated that the Army Medical Research Material Command, where they work, manages essentially 80 percent of the Army Department of Defence research development budget, including the money that comes to them from the congress which is about 2.5 billion dollars a year and with research development money.
These monies according to him are dedicated to interventions on disease control, which is the major component of their work and the reason for the partnership with Nigeria.
He further stated that, being a military personnel, particularly in the medical field, has dual roles, one is to support the national security and secondly to fight against infectious diseases.
Concluding his speech, he said that the partnership with Nigeria is vital to them, not only to support their own soldiers but also to preserve the world population at large.
Okon Modupe and Babalola Damilola 30TH April, 2018