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Emerging Health Security Legislation in Nigeria

The International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) require all Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) to comply with the provisions. Nigeria is bound to comply. This requires ensuring several capacities including legal capacities to help prevent, detect, and respond to public health events, including public health events of international concern. This requires the adoption of domestic legislation which covers a wide variety of relevant health security issues. Previous Joint External Evaluation (JEE) reports have indicated a significant gap in Nigeria in this respect. A wide-ranging legislation mapping report prepared by Prof Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, Managing Partner at Health Ethics and Law Consulting (HELC) commissioned by Nigeria’s national public health institute, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with the support of Resolve to Save Lives, showed the extent of the gap and the need to review the legislation not only at the federal level but also at the subnational level.

HELC was then further commissioned by Resolve to Save Lives to review the state legal landscape. One of these States was Kano State. A mapping report, the outcome of the legal landscape mapping done by HELC, indicated major gaps in the legal and regulatory framework necessary to support health security efforts. Legislators from Kano State’s House of Assembly welcomed the report, also employed to support a subnational JEE in the State, and showed enthusiasm for remedying the identified gaps.

HELC, with the support of Resolve to Save Lives, working with the legislators developed a draft State Bill based on the gaps identified. This document provided a basis for further discussions and advocacy by other organisations. The draft aimed to provide a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to health security, recognising key government agencies involved in health security and their roles, drawing from key documents such as the Technical Guidelines on the Integrated Disease and Surveillance Response (IDSR), and adopting a One-Health and human rights approach.

In 2024, Kano State became the first State to pass the Health State Security Bill, marking a remarkable step forward in legal preparedness and a comprehensive, law-based, proactive approach to protecting its residents from health security threats.

As we await the Governor’s assent, we congratulate the State and hope that other governments in Nigeria replicate these efforts.

HELC is excited to continue to make significant contributions to the legal framework for health in Nigeria and specifically to health security. This work would not be possible without the support of Resolve to Save Lives. The leadership of the NCDC is also acknowledged and appreciated.

News on the development may be found here:

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