COVID-19

By Chioma Obinna

Worried about the challenges of inadequate investment in health security, Infectious disease experts have called on the Nigerian government to invest in infectious diseases surveillance, diagnostics, research, risk communication and community engagement.

The Infectious diseases experts under the auspices of the Nigerian Infectious Diseases Society, NIDS, also implored the government at all levels to increase budgetary allocation to primary healthcare and health security.

Making these calls in a communiqué it issued at the end of its 10th Annual General Meeting & Scientific Conference in Yenagoa, insisted that the Federal government must commit sufficient resources to promote local manufacturing of medical countermeasures including therapeutics and vaccines for relevant infectious diseases.

The communiqué jointly signed by the President, Prof. Dimie Ogoina and Secretary, Dr. Uche Unigwe observed that despite the fact that infectious diseases are significant causes of disease morbidity and mortality in Nigeria, there are still considerable gaps in the country’s capacity to detect, prevent and control various infectious diseases.

They further called for a reappraisal of all previously established COVID-19 molecular laboratories across Nigeria to optimise utilization.

They posited that there was the need for investments in rapid diagnostic tests for Lassa fever, AMR, and other infectious diseases.

“We recommend the upgrade and designation of at least one public health laboratory per state for Antimicrobial Resistance, AMR, diagnosis.”

They further observed that: “Nigeria still faces the challenges of inadequate investment in health security, excessive dependence on foreign aid for health interventions, poor multi-sectoral collaboration, and untapped private sector investments in response to infectious diseases threats.

“The Society is concerned that Mpox-related therapeutics and vaccines are still not available in Nigeria about five years after the resurgence of the disease in the country.”

They further called on the international community and developed countries to promote equitable and non-prohibitive access to Mpox vaccines and therapeutics to all affected African countries, including Nigeria.

“We recommend the development and implementation of innovative behavioural interventions and targeted educational programs to address the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Nigeria.”

NIDS also commended the Federal, State Governments, agencies and other relevant partners for their contributions to infectious diseases prevention and control in Nigeria.

NIDS reaffirmed its strong commitment to advancing the prevention and control of infectious diseases in Nigeria through advocacy, research, training, and partnerships.

The keynote address  for the conference was: “Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response: Challenges and Prospects for Resource-Constrained Settings”

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