Nigeria doesn’t stockpile medical consumables for emergency response —Expert

Former, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Dr Jide Idris had said that Nigeria does not stockpile materials necessary for responding to emergencies and this has deterred adequate response to outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging diseases like coronavirus.

Dr Idris, who spoke at a one-day infectious diseases emergency preparedness workshop for health personnel and policymakers by Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET), said Nigeria only starts only response when an outbreak of disease has killed people.

Idris said stockpiling of these materials, including drugs, vaccines and consumables, is an essential part of longterm preparedness for disease outbreak all over the world to reduce loss of lives and mitigate disaster’s societal impact.

The expert, who said disease outbreaks will continue to happen, said Nigeria cannot rely on its health system in its current state to adequately tackle emerging and re-emerging diseases.

According to him, “about 70 per cent of all these emerging diseases are zoonotic; infections have no border, so all states and countries need disease preparedness. Without leadership and good governance, every other thing that is done will fail; it will end in chaos.”

Dr Idris said there was also the need for states in the country to develop plans and collaborate to improve on emergency preparedness and response to challenges experienced during outbreaks.

He charged state governments yet to have a functional  emergency operations centre in place to do so, adding, “the structure will help to know what to do and who responses in an outbreak of diseases and other disasters.”

Dr Idris called for the review of Nigeria’s outdated public health laws, saying they do not address Nigeria’s prevailing public health challenges.

Idris said the deficit in human resources for health in Nigeria needed to be reviewed given that 25 per cent of the world’s disease burden is resident in developing countries, with only one per cent world’s health workforce

Dr Bamidele Mutiu, a consultant microbiologist with infectious diseases outbreak response, Ministry of Health, Lagos, said Nigeria need to curtail the coronavirus because the nation cannot afford the resources and capacity to support people in case it spreads in the community.

He stressed the need for Nigerians to maintain the standard of precautions such as cough etiquette and handwashing with soap and water.

Dr Mutiu said Nigerians should use disposable napkins rather than handkerchief as part of measures to protect themselves from infections as coronavirus.

Executive Secretary, GET, Dr Tunde Saka said the workshop was to build capacity, conduct research and engender advocacy for emerging diseases in the country and beyond as well as strengthen African’s preparedness to tackle disease outbreak, public health emergencies and pandemics.


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