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By Sola Ogundipe, Kingsley Omonobi, Ben Agande, Chioma Obinna, Olasunkanmi Akoni
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has called for greater strategic collaboration among West African countries to control and contain the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in order to check its spread and further threat to human lives, even as the Federal government, yesterday, directed all laboratory centres and hospitals nationwide to set up Infection Control Facilities with immediate effect.
The President who spoke while receiving in audience the new ambassador of Guinea to Nigeria, Mr. Gaoussou Toure, who presented his letters of credence to the President at the State House, Abuja, commended the containment measures so far taken by West African countries affected by the disease stressing that more concerted intra-regional cooperation and action needs to be developed.
He said, “A problem that affects one of us affects all. We may need to come together as a region to strengthen our containment measures. I am, however, pleased that serious measures are being taken to control the spread of the disease.”
Military labs, others to set up infection control facilities
Against the backdrop of the death of two medical personnel from the Ebola virus and the fact that 10 cases have so far tested positive, military laboratories and others have been directed to set up infection control facilities
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Haliru Alhassan, who made the disclosure at the commissioning of the Defence Reference Laboratory extension block at Mogadishu Cantonment, Abuja, said the directive became necessary since health personnel were at high risk while providing treatment for victims.
He said it had now become necessary not only to look at the curative side of the problem but also the preventive side hence the need to set up Infection Control Facilities to ensure proper infection preventive measures for the Ebola virus.
Haliru noted that the inauguration of the Defence Reference Laboratory at a time when Nigeria was not only grasping with the HIV/AIDs scourge, but the Ebola emergency, was timely promising that the federal ministry of health would partner the military authorities towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
On his part, Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, said that if Nigeria as a nation encouraged the military to do more in the area of research, they were capable of coming out with drugs that will checkmate most medical challenges adding that there will be no need to run overseas all the time for succour.
He disclosed that the construction of the new extension block and its speedy completion was the federal government’s way of investing in specialized diagnostic services and research as bedrock for advancement of medical care and control of infectious and emerging diseases.
“Naturally, there is no better place to make such an investment than the military” he said, noting, “I am optimistic that that the frontiers of research would be further extended beyond the military to the civilian establishments like teaching hospitals and the academia”.
Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, said that the referral laboratory would enhance Nigerian armed forces medical requirements “particularly at this period that our troops are deployed in response to national security challenges. It will no doubt enhance the ability of the armed forces to meet the security aspirations of defending a united democratic Nigeria.”