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COVID-19: NCDC building on lessons to strengthen health security

by Haruna Gimba

By Iyema David

As Nigeria marked two years down the line since its commenced response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it’s building on lessons learnt so far to strengthen the country’s health security for the future.

The Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said this in a statement, he signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja.

February 27, 2022, marked exactly two years since the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was detected in Nigeria.

This was largely aided by the prompt notification of health authorities by an astute attending physician.

Since then, Nigeria has confirmed an excess of 250,000 cases, recorded over 3,000 deaths, and learnt major lessons in its bid to strengthen the country’s health system to cope with other infectious diseases and future health emergencies.

Dr Adetifa noted that the COVID-19 pandemic response has recorded the largest political commitment in the history of health system development in the country due to its global relevance and impact on the economy.

“This has provided opportunities for prioritising health on the political agenda and attracting the required future investment in health security.

“We all have the responsibility to encourage and continue to hold authorities accountable to sustain interest and investment in healthcare in general and particularly for health security,” he explained.

The NCDC boss stated that the agency was mandated to lead on the preparedness, detection, and response to disease outbreaks of public health importance and to mitigate the health impact of public health emergencies/disasters.

“In the last five years, several efforts have been made towards improving our health system, as well as increased investment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, the NCDC supported the establishment of infectious disease treatment centres, molecular laboratories, and public health emergency operation centres in all States, and provided equipment required for critical care in hospitals e.g., dialysis machines.

“NCDC has also led the training of over 40,000 health workers on infection prevention control, completed the digitalisation of the country’s infectious disease surveillance system, provided support including of vehicles for outbreak investigation across states, and ensured regular supplies of treatment and testing supplies among other activities,” he said.

Adetifa stated that despite this progress, it is essential that these investments in health infrastructure are sustained beyond COVID-19.

“Our priority remains to work with relevant government institutions and our partners to learn lessons from the pandemic and build back better.

“Although it requires significant financial investments to build infrastructure and procure equipment, investment in the strengthening of the capacity of relevant human resources to drive progress towards national health security is vital.

“We are grateful to our workforce for their sacrifice and dedication to protecting the health of Nigerians. We also remain grateful to collaborating government institutions, partners across all sectors, civil society organisations, community and religious leaders, media stakeholders, and all Nigerians for working with us in solidarity to fight COVID-19,” he appreciated.

According to him, despite the prevailing pandemic fatigue, COVID-19 is still a global reality with the risk of emergence of dangerous variants. Overcoming this pandemic and future disease outbreaks requires national and international collaboration. On a personal level, we can contribute by getting vaccinated and adhering to COVID-19 safety measures.

He added that the NCDC remains committed to working under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and in close collaboration with the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 to end the pandemic and protect the health of every Nigerian.

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