Nigeria: How Nigeria Can Build Back Better On Covid-19, Other Diseases Outbreak - Experts

3 August 2021

With the backdrop of disease outbreaks in the country and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, experts have proffered ways to strengthen the country's health security as well as reducing risk to future outbreaks.

They gave the advice during the Nigerian Conference of Applied and Field Epidemiology, (NiCAFE), coordinated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The conference brought together public health professionals, laboratory scientists, field epidemiologists, researchers, health care professionals and other members of the public.

Speaking separately during the various sessions, they reflected on the response to the COVID-19, Lassa fever and cholera outbreaks among others and also reviewed gaps in epidemic preparedness and response.

Dr Akindele Adebiyi, President-elect International Epidemiological Association said enforcement is a key consideration in disease exposure control.

He said preparedness must include community participation, citizen's involvement in planning, implementation and evaluation of public health interventions.

Prof Babatunde Salako, Director General of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) said research is very important in decision making for case management and public health response.

He said pragmatic solutions to ensure clinical trial preparedness and vaccine development in the country should include expedited ethics and regulatory review, generic contracts and modified research enrolment procedures.

Others are solidarity trial and joint stimulatory exercise for the outbreak and clinical research preparedness by NCDC, researchers and other stakeholders.

He said there was a need for the government's financial and political support, as well as cross border partnership with vaccine development companies.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control, in his presentation on ' Role of regional health institutes in the prevention, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks' said regional collaboration is the backbone of health security on the continent.

He said a new public health order is key to tackling the threats of infectious diseases.

Earlier, the Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said Nigeria was not only faced with the COVID-19 pandemic but multiple concurrent disease outbreaks.

He said in the last one year, responding to the pandemic presented lessons from leadership and governance to building laboratory systems and risk communications.

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