By Chioma Obinna
In line with lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and other outbreaks, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, with supports from its partners is hosting the 1st edition of the Nigerian Conference of Applied and Field Epidemiology, NiCAFE.
The conference billed to hold 26th through 28th of July 2021 is themed” ‘Building back better:
According to the Director-General, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NiCAFE conference seeks to bring together public health professionals, laboratory scientists, field epidemiologists, researchers, health care professionals and other members of the public to reflect on the response to these outbreaks, review gaps in epidemic preparedness and response and brainstorm innovative solutions to strengthen health security.
Noting that the last 17 months, countries across the world have been affected by the impact of the
COVID-19 pandemic, he said in Nigeria, there have been other disease outbreaks in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Lassa fever and cholera.
The conference which is being held virtually will feature eight keynote/plenary speakers, over 170 oral and poster presentations across various themes. These include governance and leadership, epidemiology, surveillance and transmission dynamics, case management of infectious diseases. Other conference sub-themes include social sciences and community engagement, the role of agriculture and environment in disease transmission as well as health system strengthening for future pandemics.
The conference keynote lecture will be given by the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization, Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Day 1, and the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control, Dr. John Nkengasong on Day 2.
Plenary speakers at the conference include Professor Babatunde Salako, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR); Professor Akin Abayomi, Honourable Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Nigeria; Dr Akindele Adebiyi, Public Health Physician and Clinical Epidemiologist; Professor Folasade Ogunsola, Consultant Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control, and Chair of the Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN); Dr Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); and Ms. Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Aliko Dangote Foundation.
He said the NiCAFE conference set to be opened by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, will provide an opportunity for learning, connecting, and collab nine pre-conference workshops focused on skill-building and experience sharing were organised.
Ihekweazu explained that since 2008, the Federal Ministry of Health through the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has closely worked together to establish and strengthen the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP). The NFELTP which has been supported by the US Centres for Disease Control (US-CDC), African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and more recently the World Bank has significantly contributed to an increased number of field epidemiologists contributing to national health security.
He expressed gratitude to 2021 NiCAFE supporting partners including WHO, UNICEF, the
World Bank-funded Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Project, US-CDC, AFENET, Public Health England, Resolve to Save Lives, Tony Blair Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
He said the NiCAFE conference is an evolution of the previous NCDC/NFELTP conference.
“This year’s conference will focus on how Nigeria can build back better from the COVID-19 response to strengthen the country’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks.