U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Lauds U.S. and Nigerian Military Partnerships on Health

The Partnership between Nigeria’s Ministry of Defense (NMOD) Health Implementation Program (HIP) and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research through its U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria (USAMRD-A/N) has played a primary role in curtailing the scourge of HIV/AIDS among troops, their families and civilians living around the barracks.

“All combined, $800 million dollars is the total of U.S. investments in Nigeria, which is the largest in health that we have globally”, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon said at the opening of the site commanders and site team leaders’ meeting in Abuja on Monday.

FitzGibbon who led the U.S. Embassy effort against Ebola in Sierra Leone said, “Diseases have no borders, and joint efforts will strengthen the national response to any disease that affects soldiers and civilians alike in Nigeria.”

“It is important to note that the bilateral relationships between the U.S. Defense Department and Nigerian Ministry of Defense remains strong. Likewise the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Nigerian Center for Disease Control,” she stated.

The Commander of U.S. Department of Defense’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), Colonel Deydre Teyhen, said WRAIR’s mission is to defeat all infectious diseases and to promote brain health.  “I am so impressed that U.S. has trained 612 laboratory scientists as we moved through this last fifteen years and you have three high-quality labs that you created,” she remarked.

This success, particularly on HIV/AIDS curtailment, she hopes can continue and extend to other infectious diseases that are having a negative impact on the military’s combat readiness.  She also hoped for an opportunity to collaborate on brain health.  “I think together, we are stronger. Together, we can do more,” the Walter Reed leader, stated.

Through the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria (USAMRD-A/N), the NMOD Health Implementation Plan (HIP) has made a great impact on human capacity development, infrastructural and laboratory upgrade of several Nigerian military health facilities, clinical research and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases such as Malaria and Tuberculosis.

The Director General of HIP, Retired Brigadier General Nathan Anelechi Elvis Okeji and the Director of Hospital Services Department in the Ministry of Defense, acknowledged the mileage achieved by the U.S.-Nigeria military partnership, especially the state-of-the-art Defense Reference Laboratory (DRL) located in Mogadishu Cantonment, the only lab in West Africa accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation.