Dr. Walter Kazadi, new World Health Organisation Country Representative, says Nigeria’s political commitment to COVID-19 response is commendable and that the country is among countries making the difference in Africa.
Kazadi said this in a statement issued from WHO Nigeria Office in Abuja on Friday.
According to the statement, Kazadi made the remarks when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, received the new country representative to Nigeria at a brief ceremony.
Kazadi was in Onyeama’s office to present his letter of credence to him, signaling his formal assumption of duties in Nigeria.
He appreciated the warm reception in Nigeria, noting that the country’s commitment to the COVID-19 response was laudable.
He assured the minister that he would work with other UN agencies and partners to support government in surmounting coordination challenges, especially in the humanitarian sector.
Kazadi is a longstanding and well respected WHO international expert, a public health epidemiologist, leader and manager with over 30 years of progressive experience.
The statement said: “Kazadi brings to Nigeria, extensive experience in the management of primary health care, an important attribute.
“An important attribute and an asset in the Nigerian context with primary health care.
“With primary health care as the bedrock of the National Health Policy and National Strategic Health Development Plan II in support of Universal Health Coverage and health related Sustainable Development Goals.”
Also speaking, Onyeama said Nigeria was behind WHO in the critical moment of a global fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister urged the country representative to remain focused in addressing not just the pandemic, but other health challenges.
Onyeama, however, acknowledged the enormous contribution of WHO over the years towards attaining the highest levels of health for Nigerians.
He specifically appreciated the role of WHO in the response to COVID-19, saying the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 as well as other coordination mechanisms benefitted from WHO’s technical expertise.
“I have no doubt that you will make a positive impact on the health of all Nigerians,” he said.
The minister mentioned coordination among partners, especially in the humanitarian crisis, as a challenge.
WHO and Nigeria signed the first bilateral agreement in 1962 and since then WHO continued with a technical advisory role.
Of late, the cooperation is more structured and is based on a jointly prepared document – the Country Cooperation Strategy.
The strategy is well aligned to the national priorities and allows WHO to support the government’s efforts to improve the health status of all Nigerians.