The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has called on the government at all levels to strengthen Nigeria’s health sector through the implementation of favorable policies, increased budgetary allocation and investments to enable the sector withstand future disruptions especially a pandemic .
Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general of the NCDC said this as part of the lessons learnt from the unprecedented outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic which revealed the lapses and weakness of the country’s health sector and placed immense pressure on the economic, social and political sectors of the country,
Speaking during the Channels TV Sunrise daily program, he said “the country’s health sector following the outbreak of the pandemic experienced so much pressure and this was due to the poor state of the sector as well as the consequences of underinvestment over the years,
The fact is that we will be faced with more emerging diseases in future, therefore we need to increase investments in the health sector across all states and build sustainable platforms that are prepared to handle any kind of health crisis going forward, especially pandemics” he said.
After the confirmation of Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case in February 2020, many more have been confirmed. 365 days later, COVID-19 cases in Nigeria has grown to over 155 thousand with over 1,900 deaths confirmed out of the 1.48 million samples tested according to the NCDC.
Speaking on vaccine availability, he said about four million doses of vaccines have been made available to Nigeria due to its large size and population which will arrive in a matter of days. He however said challenges may arise in dispensing the vaccine effectively due to lack of necessary infrastructure.
“For many years we have been soliciting for resources to build up our defense mechanism and also train people in order to have adequate manpower
He recommended that as it is necessary to maintain and improve all the health infrastructures setup during the COVID-19 period and also encourage the local production of Personal protective equipment (PPE) and other related accessories.
The DG also mentioned that the pandemic revealed challenges that can be caused by limited knowledge and lack of manpower resources.
“At the initial stage not much was understood about the virus and this prompted misinformation and wrong decision making, causing it to spread widely and also wreak so much havoc,
The work we do at the NCDC is limited to the immediate emergency, incase there are new viruses, there is insufficient knowledge on what to do and we so not have enough manpower to successfully combat any health crisis.” He explained.
He advised that it is also important to increase manpower resources and knowledge through necessary training, stating that the NCDC in preparing ahead has embarked on periodic training to equip scientist, virologist, laboratory technicians and other medical personnel.
“For starters, we have trained about 20 doctors who are already experts in their fields, in order to prepare them with skills to handle health disruptions in future,
In addition we have setup a quality assurance laboratory that will evaluate medical laboratories for effectiveness and efficiency” Ihekweazu said