By Joseph Erunke

THE federal government has advised citizens against violation of COVID-19 guidelines, insisting that they must not rule out the possibility of the disease bouncing back as currently in China.

This came as government said it was closely following up on its efforts in activating local vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Already,the government said work was currently going on at the BioVaccine company, following recent successful completion of training on COVID-19 vaccine production technology by WHO in South Africa.

Minister of Health,Osagie Ehanire, speaking during a ministerial press conference in Abuja, expressed fear that the disease which he noted,slowed down may bounce back as being experienced in China at the moment.

He reminded that COVID-19 had not gone, stating that rather,it merely slowed down in Nigeria.

Ehanire,who said government was still
working closely given the reemergence of COVID-19 that has surprised people in other countries,said:“We must, therefore, refrain from non essential crowding and if has to happen, we must apply none pharmaceutical interventions like wearing our face mask, washing our hands, sanitizing and being careful with all our interaction.”

“The experience of other countries in Europe and currently the experience in China tells us that there can be a flare up of COVID-19 at any time. We now know that the massive huge city of Shangai in China is on the lock down because of an explosion again of COVID-19 in that city. Before that it was in Europe, in UK and Germany. So, the reemergence of COVID-19 from country to country surprise us,”he said.

Speaking further on government’s efforts in activating local vaccine manufacturing capacity,the minister said,“We are looking at working with two platforms, because of our population. We have to have these preparations made by identifying the vaccine production capacity that we can use to start off other production platform to be able to produce multiple types of vaccines.

Açcording to him,“There are many disease patterns in our country which we need to be able to take care of such as TB, malaria and other endemic diseases and these should have vaccines. So the research components have to be included.”

The minister added that the country was working in collaboration with some research organisations outside the country for not only producing COVID-19 vaccine, but learning the capacity to produce any other type of vaccines that can be used to deal with some indigenous and tropical neglected disease

Meanwhile,the World Health Organisation, WHO,has tasked governments at all levels and communities to work closely with development partners to advance the country along the road to Malaria elimination.
WHO, in a message following commemoration of the World Malaria Day,said it “remains committed to continuing partnership with Federal Ministry of Health,National Malaria Elimination Programme and all other Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partners through provision of technical support and guidance to implement the activities necessary to meet the National goals.”

The WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, in the message, recalled that,”Despite the overall progress made in the first 15 years of this century, global trends in malaria cases and mortality rates have been plateauing since 2015, particularly in the highest burden countries.”

“On this auspicious occasion, I call on government at all levels and communities to work closely with development partners to advance the country along the road to elimination, while contributing to the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals.

“WHO remains committed to continuing partnership with FMoH/National Malaria Elimination Programme and all other Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partners through provision of technical support and guidance to implement the activities necessary to meet the National goals.

I believe that collaboratively, we can “Advance Equity. Build Resilience. End Malaria” and let us remember, “Every effort count,”it said.

Açcording to WHO,”The World Malaria Report of 2021 estimated that, 228 million malaria cases and over 600,000 malaria deaths occurred in 2020 within the WHO African Region and, this accounted for 95% of cases and deaths globally. “

WHO said the “theme for this year’s World Malaria Day, “Advance Equity. Build Resilience. End Malaria” with a national slogan of “Every effort counts”, is another opportunity to focus national attention on malaria, and it’s devastating impact on families, communities and societal development.”

“This year, the World Health Organization is highlighting the critical role of innovation in the fight against malaria, “Harness innovation to reduce the global malaria disease burden and save lives.

“It aligns with WHO’s call to urgently scale up innovation and the deployment of new tools in the fight against malaria, while advocating for equitable access to malaria prevention and treatment, within the context of building health system resilience,”it said.

Açcording to WHO,”In recent times, there has been a growing political commitment at country, regional and international levels to tackle malaria, and has seen significant breakthroughs in malaria prevention and control, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The message read further:”Landmark recommendations on the use of the first vaccine against malaria – RTS,S – were released by WHO late last year. This vaccine will be used to prevent malaria among children aged six months to five years, who live in moderate- to high-transmission settings.

“While this is a groundbreaking advancement in the development of new tools to fight this disease, with the potential to save millions of lives, supplies are currently limited.

“As such, it is important to ensure that the doses that are available are utilized for maximum impact, while ensuring continued availability of other preventive measures to those most at risk.

“The High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) approach of rethinking malaria provided the right impetus for the current malaria strategic plan. It provides clear direction towards using stratified and evidence-based information to drive impact.

“Through this effort, Seasonal malaria chemoprevention has been scaled up in 21 states while deploying other stratified approaches for maximum impact.

“We must however, not lose sight of potential effect of drug and insecticide resistance, as these can reverse the gains that had been made.”

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