By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idiris, has warned that Ebola Virus Disease and other highly pathogenic emerging and re-emerging epidemic prone diseases remain threats to Nigeria and other West African countries.
Briefing journalists in Lagos, Idris, called for collaboration among West African countries to prevent and control the epidemics of these diseases. He stressed the need for promotion of strong and effective support for policy makers as well as stakeholders to develop and strengthen the capacity of African scientists and health research.
To this end, the Lagos State Ministry of Health in collaboration with other international health organisations is organising a three-day conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases and Bio-Safety to chart the way forward for disease prevention and control.
“We need to remind ourselves that EVD and emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases remain a serious threat in West Africa and all hands must be on deck to prevent and control their epidemics. WHO recorded that 28,645 people were infected with EVD in six West African sub region out of which 11,324 died.
“We also need to remind ourselves that three weeks ago, three cases of Zika Virus were diagnosed in Guinea Bisau. Nigeria also recorded a case of Dengue fever a few weeks ago. “These incidences show that we need to be on full alert and strengthen our disease surveillance mechanism as well as scale up our emergency preparedness and response platform to secure the health of the people, ” he added.
The conference commences July 27 to 29 in Lagos themed ‘Strengthening African Health Systems, Building Resilience and Capacity to Tackle Epidemic Threats: Biosecurity and Infrastructure in the Aftermath of the EVD Outbreak’. “It is being organised to help develop the continent’s own strategic intervention and response mechanisms to increasing outbreaks of Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) and biological terrorism threats.
“It will also create an opportunity for the continent to derive bio-technological sustainability capacity and knowledge, bringing together diverse participants from across the world and Africa in particular, ” he noted.
Erstwhile Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof Akin Osibogun said Nigeria cannot afford to rest on its oars, adding that after defeating Ebola and with the emergency of Zika virus, “there is need to sit down and reappraise our strategies and that is the essence of this conference.”