NCDC seeks stronger collaboration for health security in Nigeria

The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has called for stronger collaboration with pharmaceutical industries as part of measures to strengthen the country’s health security.

Ihekweazu made this call in an interview on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said that the NCDC had earlier indicated interest for intensified stronger collaboration with

pharmaceutical manufacturers at the third Public Lecture of the Board of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.

He highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on national development and health care system

at the forum.

According to him, there is the need to collaborate with operators in the pharmaceutical industry to

co-create a stronger future for health security in the country.

Ihekweazu recalled that Nigeria experienced several disease outbreaks in the last five years including large outbreaks

of cerebrospinal meningitis, Lassa fever and the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, He notes that focus should be on the outcome of the happenings rather than the happening itself.

He said that the NCDC made some progress in establishing the National Public Health Emergency Operations Centre

and National Reference Laboratory in 2017 and the subsequent establishment of similar structures across

all states in Nigeria.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu on COVID-19

According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the fastest and most wide-reaching response to a

global health emergency in human history.

He said that the pandemic enabled rapid mobilisation of resources to scale public health infrastructures across Nigeria.

Ihekweazi also said that the NCDC made enormous progress over time including the digitisation of the

national disease surveillance architecture across all states.

He said that emergency operations centres were established in more that 30 states in Nigeria while

molecular laboratories were also established in every state.

He also spoke about the establishment of standard infectious disease treatment centres by the NCDC.

Ihekweazu acknowledged that there were challenges at the beginning of the pandemic where there were calls

to use unproven cures for management of cases.

He further said:

“During the calls to use unproven methods to treat COVID-19 cases, we heard very little from the professional

science organisations to dispel these misconceptions and explain the principles of clinical trials especially

how decisions are made about therapeutic interventions.

“Given the credibility challenge of government in our country, the voices of professionals such as the

Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) becomes critical in such situations.

“If we collectively understand and communicate how therapeutics work and its importance to the populace,

we stand a chance to protect the integrity of the underlying science that is the foundation upon which

our professions are built.

“Thereby re-gaining the credibility of the profession we hold so dear.”

Ihekweazu, who cited India as a powerhouse in vaccine manufacturing, said that in building stronger

pharmaceutical capacity in Nigeria, we must recognise that our opportunities were mutually dependent on each other.

He called for collectively to drive the health security in Nigeria.

He also urged PSN members to work with the Federal Government to attract international opportunities for the development of Nigeria’s vaccine,

diagnostics and therapeutics manufacturing capacity to co-create a stronger future for health security.

By Taiyelolu A

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