Nigeria doing well in fighting infectious diseases, says NCDC

By Abiemwense Moru
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in collaboration with African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeriasays Nigeria is doing well in the fight against infectious diseases.
Dr Chinwe Ochu, Director, Prevention Programmes and Knowledge Management, Head of Research, NCDC, made this known on the sideline of Media Preparedness against Future and Current Outbreak Response Programme Brainstorming session on Wednesday in Lagos.
Ochu stated that in terms of fighting infectious diseases, the country was getting better looking at the last 10 years, and would continue to get better.
According to her, there are now structures in place with improved capacity to respond to disease outbreaks, though this may not be 100 per cent.
“We have the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control that has been coordinating the response to infectious disease outbreaks across the country, but we can do better.
“We still have some gaps in our health system; we need to build a resilient health system to have a healthier nation,” she said.
On emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in Nigeria such as Lassa fever, Yellow fever, Monkeypox, among others, Ochu said the country was putting more measures in place to continue to address them.
According to her, this is very important because most of these diseases, from experience globally, are associated with spill over events with infections moving from animal to man.
“This is usually as a result of some behavioural factors and interactions within the human-animal-environment interface; how man interacts with animals and the surrounding environment.
“Sometimes this is as a result of people going into the wild and encroaching into the wild and then have those infectious disease pathogens, jumping from animals to human.
“That is what we believe is responsible for current outbreak of zoonotic diseases and will keep bringing about emergence of new pathogens and new diseases.
“For us in Nigeria, we have had a lot of these infectious diseases overtime such as the Ebola, though this was transmitted from another country,” she said.
Ochu maintained it was necessary to monitor trend of infectious diseases through active and passive surveillance.
“We have what is called integrated disease surveillance and response system that enables us identify these infectious diseases.
“It also enable us to monitor their trend, and to advise public health action that could help prevent or improve our preparedness for the next pandemic, “she said.
On her part, Dr Aishat Usman, Field Coordinator for Nigerian Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training Programme, AFENET, said it was necessary to strengthen the country’s emergency response and preparedness systems.
According to her, if the right things are in place, when such outbreaks of infectious diseases happen, we won’t be running helter-skelter”
Usman maintained that building the capacity of the media in health reporting could  help prepare them to be part of the rapid response team for outbreak investigations.
She also said that the media could help in putting out editorials on yearly outbreaks in Nigeria.
Usman stressed that Journalists could be part of the rapid response team for outbreak investigation to have  the first hand information and be able to disseminate it correctly. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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