COVID-19 Resurgence In China And Lessons For Nigeria

COVID-19 Resurgence In China And Lessons For Nigeria

It is no longer news that there has been a resurgence of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 few weeks ago in China, leading to lockdowns in many of its cities to avoid a spread within and outside the country. Recall that the first outbreak was alleged to have sparked off in Wuhan, China.

February 27, would mark exactly three years since the first case of Coronavirus disease, COVID-19 was first detected in Nigeria. This was largely aided by the prompt notification of health authorities by an astute attending physician. Since then, Nigeria has confirmed an excess of 3000,000 cases, recorded over 3,500 deaths, and learnt major lessons in its bid to strengthen the country’s health system to cope with other infectious diseases and future health emergencies.

Prior to COVID-19, the world was preparing for a possible influenza pandemic, yet the arrival of SARS-CoV-2 highlighted inadequacies in global pandemic preparedness. Given the interconnectedness of the world, now essentially a global village, we are at constant risk of public health emergencies that have the potential to greatly disrupt lives and livelihoods like COVID-19 did. This makes it critical to learn from lessons taught by this pandemic to strengthen preparedness and response to other diseases in line with our mandate. We have continued to face outbreaks of cholera and Lassa fever concurrently with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous COVID-19 pandemic response had recorded the largest political commitment in the history of health system development in Nigeria due to its global relevance and impact on our economy. That had provided opportunities for prioritising health on the political agenda and attracting the required future investment in health security. We all have the responsibility to encourage and continue to hold authorities accountable to sustain interest and investment in healthcare in general and particularly for health security.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, as Nigeria’s national public health institute is mandated to lead on the preparedness, detection, and response to disease outbreaks of public health importance and to mitigate the health impact of public health emergencies/disasters. In the last six years, several efforts have been made towards improving our health system, as well as increased investment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the NCDC supported the establishment of infectious disease treatment centres, molecular laboratories, and public health emergency operation centres in all States, and provided equipment required for critical care in hospitals e.g., dialysis machines. NCDC had also led the training of over 40,000 health workers on infection prevention control, completed the digitalisation of the country’s infectious disease surveillance system, provided support including vehicles for outbreak investigation across states, and ensured regular supplies of treatment and testing supplies among other activities. Despite this progress, it is essential that these investments in health infrastructure are sustained beyond COVID-19. Our priority remains to work with relevant government institutions and our partners to learn lessons from the pandemic and build back better.

Although it requires significant financial investments to build infrastructure and procure equipment, investment in the strengthening of the capacity of relevant human resources to drive progress towards national health security is vital. 

AljazirahNigeria commends the NCDC workforce for their sacrifice and dedication to protecting the health of Nigerians. We also praise the efforts of collaborating government institutions, partners across all sectors, civil society organisations, community and religious leaders, media stakeholders, and all Nigerians for working with us in solidarity to fight COVID-19.

Despite the prevailing pandemic fatigue, COVID-19 is still a global reality with the risk of emergence of dangerous variants. Overcoming the pandemic and future disease outbreaks requires national and international collaboration. On a personal level, Nigerians could contribute by getting vaccinated and adhering to COVID-19 safety measures.

AljazirahNigeria urges the NCDC to remain committed to working under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and in close collaboration with other health institutions to see to an end or a control to the barest minimum of pandemic and protect the health of every Nigerian.

All efforts towards a frontal national response in terms of entry point surveillance at airports especially, must be brought to bear, while other forms of response measures in terms of equipping of health facilities with testing centres and isolation units, provision of scanners, sanitisers and masks in public places along with the buildup in awareness creation with enforcement is also highly recommended.

We urge the Federal Government as the primary custodian of citizens’ safety to ensure that identified areas of lapses resulting from the experience of the past are keenly utilised to aid in avoiding similar pitfalls as reports of resurgence continue to unfold.

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