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Health Security for National Security

By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi

The term ‘national security’ does not only entail the act of protecting the lives and properties of people from harm, but rather includes providing stability to all other country’s institutions capable of transforming and betterment of lives of humanities.

Therefore, in the context of national security, critical sectors such as education, transport, food and agriculture, socio-economic, politics, labor, environment, energy, infrastructure and more importantly health sector must be properly secured for citizens.

It is only when people are alive in sound and good health that they can work and become productive. When they work, they contribute meaningfully to the finance sector which will inevitably boost the country’s economy thereby eventually leading to national development.

In view of the above, it is apt to say that, any country that truly tends to harness its potential and utilize the intellect of its citizen, ought to give preferential treatment to its healthcare system. 

With respect to promoting Nigeria’s prosperity and sustainable development, the National Security Strategy (NSS, 2019), a policy document designed by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Babagana Monguno, to coordinate national security, the importance of health security to nation development and the strategies to be put in place by Nigeria to achieve that were comprehensively captured.

“The overarching goal of health security is to promote and establish a health system based on primary healthcare that is preventive, restorative, rehabilitative and protective at the macro level for every Nigerian.

“The objective is to deliver health services that are affordable, universally available, accessible and acceptable within our socio-cultural context so that individuals and communities are assured of productivity, social well-being and optimal standard of living.”

Nigeria has over the years made giant strides in providing an efficient system for providing quality health care to the citizens at subsidized and affordable rates both at local, state and the federal levels.

“We will continue to expand and consolidate on the gains of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to provide effective, efficient, quality, accessible and affordable health services including mental healthcare that will improve the wellbeing of all Nigerians.

“We will continue to view public health security as a core pillar of human development as emplaced in our National Action Plan for Health Security (2018-2022) and Second National Strategic Health Development Plan (2018-2022).

“We will strive to attract and retain skilled manpower to drive our aspirations for a world class healthcare system. We will continue to strengthen civil structures and our overall national capacity to prevent and respond to public health emergencies as well as promote capacity building in our security agencies to complement these structures. We will also institute mechanisms to integrate service delivery towards ensuring that adequate funds are available and allocated for accessible, affordable, efficient and equitable healthcare,” the NSS mentioned.

Substance and drug abuse have been identified as a threat to national security. When youths continue to abuse drugs, they eventually lose their intellect, thus cannot think properly and separate between right and wrong. This situation lures them into committing various forms of criminalities capable of causing chaos to the nation’s security architecture.

Reports has shown that all the criminals holding our dear country to ransom are drug addicts. Apparently, there is a nexus between drug abuse and the rising increase of security threats to the country.

According to NSS 2019, “We recognized the growing link between criminality and substance abuse among the youth globally. Some of these substances are readily accessed from poorly supervised value chains of these drugs and chemical products. To this end, we will continue to empower the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and relevant professional bodies to enforce control so that drugs that are prone to abuse are limited to legal uses such as for research and medical purposes.”

The ongoing pandemic, which emanated from China during the late 2019 as a result of Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) that broke out. The situation has really re-emphasized the importance of health as part and parcel of national security.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.) has described the outbreak of COVID-19 as one of the emerging biological threats to national security. However, he emphasized that the ONSA is coordinating efforts to build a broad-based response to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high yield Explosives (CBRNE) emergencies by developing capabilities across Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

In order to contain the situations, almost all nations of the world were forced to go for a total lockdown at one time or the other so as to have a better moment of analyzing the conditions thereby outlining plausible measures towards stemming the tides. This has undoubtedly led to crippling of the economy of many countries, some of which are yet to recover from the effect.

It is in the wake of this health crisis/pandemic that Nigeria plunged into one of the most violent protests ever in the history of the country since its amalgamation in 1914. The #EndSARS protest, which initially started peacefully as youths took to the streets and demanded for the disbandment of a notorious police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) over extrajudicial killings, extortions and violation of human rights of citizens among others.

The unfortunate event led to killing of many security personnel as well as civilians, while a lot of properties belonging to both government and private individuals were destroyed, as hoodlums seized the opportunity and hijacked the situation to their advantage thereby perpetrating nefarious acts.

Meanwhile, it was obviously acknowledged that there is a changing landscape of health burdens that are closely associated with trans-border mobility of goods and services. In order to foster collective health security, the government should continue to provide enabling environment for effective integrated disease surveillance and health management using international best practices with sustained monitoring and evaluation which will be anchored on institution-wide,

community participation and ownership.

In addition, all the country’s relevant agencies should consolidate the efforts of the government, by continually pursuing research-based implementation of the National Health Policy goals as well.

Mukhtar wrote from Kano via [email protected]

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