The Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has revealed that the country is plagued with multiple concurrent disease outbreaks alongside the Covid-19 pandemic.
He disclosed this while speaking at the opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the Nigerian Conference of Applied and Field Epidemiology (NiCAFE) yesterday.
TheFact gathered that the rising cases of endemics especially among rural dwellers are attributed to insufficient sensitisation of the populace.
Dr. Chikwe who explained the gravity of the disease outbreaks said:
“In the last one month alone, we have been responding to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, outbreak of cholera in several state, panic associated with the detection of a monkeypox case in the US with travel history from Nigeria.
“Every week, we detect cases of yellow fever, Lassa fever, measles and other infectious diseases that are endemic in Nigeria.
“That is our reality – our tropical climate, population density, poor socio-economic factors leave us at risk of annual, multiple, concurrent disease outbreaks in Nigeria”, he explained.
He noted that there was a global rise in antimicrobial resistance, and this in turn will affect the prevention and management of infectious disease cases, hence proactive measures should be implored;
“We are also faced with increasing risks and prevalence of non-communicable diseases, therefore, we must be one step ahead of these pathogens.
“We must also think of the other public health challenges that lie ahead of us – our population is growing at a rapid phase and this will have an incredible impact on our health system”, said the NCDC Boss.
He noted that the last one year spent responding to the COVID-19 pandemic had given us a wakeup call, therefore,
it was important that we reflect on lessons learnt so far, and think together on how to strengthen our response to COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks.
In his opening remark, the Minister of Health, Dr. Ehanire Osagie reiterated the need to put proactive measures in place to forestall and curb looming epidemics, citing some steps taken by the government to this effect, he said;
“In the last five years in Nigeria, we have prioritised measures to strengthen our health security.
“From the establishment of the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in 2017, NCDC led the establishment of at least one molecular laboratory in every state in 2020.
“From the establishment of the National Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in 2017, the NCDC has led the establishment of State Public Health EOCs across the country.
“Additionally, the Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies has become an active contributor to global science.
“We conducted the largest population-based HIV survey globally in 2019 and have continued to implement studies from that survey to strengthen our knowledge of the epidemiology of other vaccine preventable diseases”, he explained.