• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Covid-19: NGF recommends establishment of CDCs in states

Kayode Fayemi

As the world continues to battle the second wave of COVID-19, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has recommended that states should make plans on establishing their own Centres for Disease Control (CDCs).

Chairman of NGF, Kayode Fayemi stated this on Tuesday in an address he presented at the Chatham House Event, London, UK titled: ‘The Role of Nigeria’s State Goverments in Recovery: Responses to COVID-19 Linked Challenges’.

Fayemi observed that as they look forward to recovery from the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, their approach must shift from emergency response to strengthening the resilience and sustainability of the health system.

He said in the medium to long term, they must begin to think strategically about the future of public health security and therefore explore the potential of in-country manufacturing of approved vaccines following technology transfer.

The NGF Chairman pointed out that Nigeria now has a National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) that includes a multi-sectoral approach to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks.

According to him, “With discoveries of new strains of the virus, it’s too early to predict the impact. However, we now have about a year’s experience in fighting this.

“Crises have consequences, often unknown at the outset. In the aftermath of the second World War, the Bretton Woods institutions were created to help re-build a shattered economy and promote international economic cooperation. Like the second world war, the COVID-19 pandemic defines an era.

“As we look forward to recovery from the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, our approach must shift from emergency response to strengthening the resilience and sustainability of our health system. We must task ourselves and rethink existing assumptions and facts around financing and delivery of health care in a manner that guarantees we build back better.

“This requires adequate funding of the health sector. We have begun to advocate for increased investment in health security and public health emergencies by state governments. In Ekiti State for example, our capital budget for health in 2021 increased by 250% above 2020 figures. Our new four-year strategy for the health sector has public health security as a major priority.

“At the NGF, we are recommending that states begin to think about establishing their own Centres for Disease Control.

“In the medium to long term, we must begin to think strategically about the future of public health security and therefore explore the potential of in-country manufacturing of approved vaccines, following technology transfer. The pandemic is a good reminder of the implications of public health outbreaks on national security. We must take the leap and gain a better level of independence, in the area of vaccine research and development but also science generally.

“Another key point to note is ownership. Public health is not for the health sector alone as is popularly practiced in countries including Nigeria. The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps our biggest lesson around this, as the pandemic has affected all spheres of the economy.

“Nigeria now has a National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) that includes a multi-sectoral approach to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks. Every sector must now contribute to ensuring health security and this is not limited to the provision of funds alone.”

He said their primary responsibility as a government now was to focus on minimising the disruptions to population health and economic growth.

Fayemi noted that on the health front, about $20m was made available to support the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at the outset to scale its capacity to adequately respond to emerging issues, adding that the private sector in Nigeria harnessed their strengths to establish the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), which was launched in March 2020 to support the government’s control efforts.

The NGF Chairman revealed that CACOVID had raised more than $75m and provided medical supplies and equipment, tests, isolation and treatment centres for individuals with COVID-19.

He said they expect about 80 million doses of vaccines would be available in 2021 to cover 40% of the population, while another 60 million doses was being planned for 2022.

On the economic front, Fayemi noted that the forum’s major priority was to secure livelihoods, stressing that the national monetary and fiscal policy reforms must align to support improvements in household income.