Nigeria is one of eight African countries where clinical trials of a vaccine for the Ebola virus disease will soon commence. The others are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cameroun, Ghana, Mali and Senegal.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Fidelis Nwankwo, who disclosed this when he addressed the 68th World Health Assembly in Geneva yesterday, also canvassed the country’s quest to become one of the hubs for the proposed African Centres for Disease Control (CDC).

The African CDC is expected to, among other things, help African countries effectively monitor public health, respond to public health emergencies, address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity. Also, World Health Organisation (WHO) is setting up a $100 million contingency fund to ensure that it will not be “overwhelmed” by a major crisis again as it was with Ebola.

The WHO and its Director-General, Margaret Chan, have come under fire for the slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, which began in Guinea in December 2013 but was not declared an international public health emergency until August 2014. Nwankwo told the Assembly: “We are also stepping up research into this disease. With the successes of ‘sped up’ safety trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health among 20 American Volunteers, further clinical trials of the ChAd3-ZEBOV, GSK Ebola Vaccine, are underway in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cameroun, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Nigeria at various stages.

“As you are aware, Nigeria was one of the countries that were hit by the Ebola virus disease outbreak, but also became the first to be certified Ebola virus disease free by the WHO on the 20th of October 2014. The story and the success the country recorded in containing the Ebola virus disease outbreak remains a remarkable feat and a milestone in encouraging a world so seriously challenged that it is indeed possible to contain the EVD.

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