The Lagos State Government is developing strategies to sanitise the environment from biosecurity threats through employing the “One Health” paradigm to achieve the Health and Environment mandate of the present administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this on Thursday at a training workshop on ‘One Health’ paradigm organised for stakeholders drawn from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), stated that the plan is to create a synergy amongst relevant MDAs, particularly Health, the Environment and Agriculture, to protect man and the environment from biosecurity threats.
In his presentation titled “Loss of Biodiversity: A Biosecurity Concern”, the Commissioner averred that the interconnectivity between man, animals and their shared environment calls for serious concern and response from the government, as well as relevant stakeholders, in order to address emerging health and environmental issues to prevent and effectively manage emerging infectious diseases which are out to ravage mankind.
He explained that the present administration deliberately put Health and Environment together in the second pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda in recognition of the connection between both and in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation.
Abayomi added that the health of man is highly dependent on the health of the environment he lives in, stressing that a healthy environment will produce a healthy population which is the ultimate goal of any responsible government.
“Biosecurity road map is a very complex road map and essentially, it is hinged on what we call the ‘One Health’ paradigm. What we are trying to do is to ensure that we are not operating in silos and this is why the Ministry of Health is working with its sister agencies like the Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture, Physical Planning and Justice to define a strategy moving forward and that strategy is based on the concept that we are only as healthy as our environment”, Dr. Abayomi said.
The Commissioner explained further that the ‘One Health’ paradigm requires all agencies to come together to create a healthy environment, noting that this synergy is not isolated to Lagos or Nigeria alone.
His words: “The ‘One Health’ paradigm involves all agencies coming together to create a healthy environment. It is not isolated to Lagos or Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon and we must promote it globally. We are trying to adopt the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Convention on the preservation of biodiversity and the protection of the environment”.
Noting that the Paradigm training was borne out of the need to upscale the State Government’s preparedness against future biosecurity threats, especially in the light of the lessons learned from the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Abayomi stressed that Lagos is working towards the prevention of biological threats as against cure and would rather spend more time and resources in the prevention of a pandemic than manage it.
He, however, urged all agencies to work together in achieving a safe environment as it is the Ministry of Health that deals with the consequences of the inability to protect and keep the environment healthy.
“We do not want to witness a pandemic, we will rather spend our time and resources in preventing it. The Ministry of Health deals with the consequences of biosecurity threats and this is why we need to work across agencies to protect the State from biological shock. We should be dealing with prevention instead of the after effect”, he said.