Health Minister raises alarm over infection of health workers with diseases

THE Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has raised alarm over continuous infection of health workers with infectious diseases while performing their duty.

In his keynote address at the Nigeria Biological Safety Association (NiBSA) Annual Conference held in Abuja, the Minister identified the risk of infection of health workers as one of the biggest challenges being faced in the health sector.

Speaking on the theme of the conference: “The role of Biosafety and Biosecurity in National and Regional development,” the Minister, who was represented by the Chief Consultant Epidemiologist of the Federation, Dr Godwin Ntedom, regrettably cited the case of late Dr Ameyo Adadevoh and others, who were infected with Ebola as well as other health workers infected with Lassa fever, Monkeypox and Meningitis in the course of their duty.

Dr Ehanire said: “Despite available new technologies and the enhancement of capacity building programs on biosafety and biosecurity, we still deal with the same problems decade after decade, indeed with additional emerging ones. Disturbing Hospital-acquired infections are also on the rise. Nigeria continues to record a large burden of infectious disease outbreaks which could be connected with our tropical climate, increasing population mobility and population density, which all ease disease transmission. This places us at higher risk of biosafety and biosecurity challenges.

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“Perhaps one of the biggest challenges we have faced in recent years is the risk of infection of health workers, who treat patients with infectious diseases. An example that readily springs to mind is that of Dr Ameyo Adadevoh, Dr Amos Abaniwo, Nurse Justino Ejelonu and Nurse Aide Evelyn Uko who became infected with Ebola while managing Nigeria’s index case in 2014.

“Some doctors, nurses and other health workers who managed patients with Lassa fever, monkeypox, meningitis and others have also become infected in the course of their duty.”

The Minister stated that Biosafety and Biosecurity plans should be taken as rigorous long-term projects which will lead to a better health system; adding that the Federal Ministry of Health was committed to this.

The Vice President, NiBSA and Chairman, 2019 Conference Committee, Mrs Stella Udo, said the theme of the conference was carefully selected to x-ray the enormous role of Biosafety and Biosecurity mitigations in enhancing public confidence and free trade within the region, which invariably impacts on development.

She said: “The global concern for emerging and re-emerging human, animal and crop diseases calls for action in gap analyses, policy formulation and interventions geared towards creating a safe and secure environment for national and regional growth.”

Mrs Udo pointed out that NiBSA would stop at nothing to engrave in the minds of all in the position to make a change on the need to put Biosafety and Biosecurity on the priority list in achieving global health.

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