By Victoria Ojeme

President, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, has cautioned member states on the spread of  Monkeypox.

He gave the warning while presenting the commission’s report on the implementation of the Community Work Programme at this year’s First Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament, in Abuja.

According to him, the West African Health Organisation, WAHO, is currently monitoring the development of the virus’ outbreak and evolving measures at containing its spread.

He said:“We have 36 confirmed cases of Monkeypox in some member states (I will not mention their names), there are some suspected cases, and two deaths have occurred already.

“Unlike COVID-19, this disease is contracted by close contact with an infected person. The vaccine offers small protection and the medication has an impact.

“WAHO is monitoring the development of the disease to prevent a pandemic, and it is also very important for citizens to be very vigilante, keep an eye on the evolution of the disease.”

Brou expressed satisfaction at the reduction in COVID-19 cases globally, a situation he said had made some countries lift movement restrictions and preventive measures.

He added that it was imperative for ECOWAS citizens to remain vigilant and the governments to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic in addressing other diseases like monkeypox, cholera and lassa fever.

The ECOWAS president said lessons so far learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic would be useful in curbing the spread of monkeypox and listed such lessons to include strengthening health systems and building capacities for local vaccine production,

He said: “Even though we observed improvement through the significant reduction in contamination, we need to continue to be vigilant and keep an eye on this pandemic.

“Compared to December 2021, the numbers have gone down, we have a very significant reduction in the numbers of confirmed cases. This is encouraging but let us remain vigilant.”

‘’You will see that about eight months ago, we had about 23 million doses administered, but today we have 63 million. So there is a significant increase in the numbers of vaccinated persons.

“But let us remain vigilant and draw lessons from pandemics because there will always be pandemics.

“COVID-19 reminds us that we are not sheltered form outbreaks. Let us draw lessons from it band in particular, there are two lessons that we need to learn.

“First, we need to strengthen our health systems and make them more effective, efficient and capable of responding to difficult situations that can come up at anytime. Besides, we always have risk factors in our region.

“The second lesson is capacity for research and manufacturing of vaccines ,because COVID has shown that we were and still are lagging behind in spite of efforts that are being made to make-up for these lapses.’’

Awaji Abiante, a member of ECOWAS Parliament and Nigerian lawmaker, representing Andoni-Opobi/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers, however, decried the low level of vaccination of citizens.

The  lawmaker, who noted that only 17.20 per cent of West African population had been vaccinated, called for increased vaccination.

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