Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who was recently appointed Assistant Director General of Health Emergency Intelligence at the World Health Organisation (WHO), will officially hand over to his successor at the NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa, on Monday, October 18, 2021.
Ihekweazu, a world renowned epidemiologist and public health physician, will, from Monday, November 1, 2021 resume as head of the WHO’s newly inaugurated Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, based in Berlin, Germany.
Adetifa, an Epidemiologist and Consultant Pediatrician, who is currently an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), United Kingdom, was appointed by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in September to take over the baton at NCDC from Ihekweazu.
Dr. Ihekweazu was, till his new position at the WHO, leading Nigeria’s effort at combating the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic and received commendations from far and wide for his excellent performance, with the Federal Government stressing, in a statement by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, that his “appointment by WHO is a recognition of his excellence and professionalism and reiterates Nigeria’s contribution to global health.”
Ihekweazu, who trained as an infectious disease epidemiologist and has over 20 years experience working in senior public health and leadership positions in several national public health institutes, including the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the UK’s Health Protection Agency, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI), was until January 2018, the Acting Director of the West Africa Regional Centre for Disease Control.
A graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, with a master’s degree in public health (MPH) from the Heinrich-Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany, the Imo State medical celebrity, who was born in Germany, was awarded a Fellowship for the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) and subsequently completed his public health specialisation in the UK.
Widely published in medical peer-reviewed journals, Ihekweazu will be resuming at the WHO Hub, which was inaugurated recently by the then outgoing German Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel and the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.
The Hub is expected to help nations of the world to better assess and respond to global disease threats following the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement by the WHO DG at the inauguration, Germany has already provided an initial US$ 100 million investment for the Hub which is currently operating from a centre provided by the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin but will soon move to a permanent campus at the heart of Berlin in Kreuzberg
According to the statement by Dr. Osagie Ehanire, that announced his appointment early in September this year, which was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Alhaji Mamman Mahmuda, Dr. Adetifa is also “a Clinical Epidemiologist at the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP), Kilifi, Kenya.
“A graduate of the College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, he completed specialist training in Paediatrics and Child Health at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, to become a Fellow of the West Africa College of Physicians.
“During residency, he also received training in infectious diseases at the Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.
“Dr. Adetifa’s breadth of experience includes an assessment of the impact of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine introduced in Nigeria in 2015, on the application of the vaccine sero epidemiology for estimating population immunity, force of infection and vaccination coverage in African settings, and COVID-19 epidemiology.
“He currently serves on the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Africa Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group, Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme Advisory Group, WHO Technical Advisory Group for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccines, and on the Kenyan National Immunisation Coordinating Committee.
“Since 2020, he has been a Commissioner for the Lancet, Nigeria Commission, and the co-lead of the Commission’s Burden of Diseases Working Group.”
The statement also said that “As incoming Director General of NCDC, Adetifa will carry on the mandate of the agency in leading the prevention, preparedness for, detection of and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies in Nigeria.”