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FG: Tropical climate, population density, high number of international travels increases risk of infectious disease outbreaks.

The Federal Government has said the tropical climate in Nigeria, population density, and other factors such as high number of international travels and local movements put the country at risk of infectious disease outbreaks.

It disclosed that the country in the last one month has been responding to an outbreak of cholera across states, an increasing number of Lassa fever cases, a recent monkey pox case reported in the United States with travel history from Nigeria, and weekly reports of yellow fever and measles.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, stated this at the virtual opening of the Nigerian Conference of Applied and Field Epidemiology organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), yesterday, in Abuja.x

He revealed, however, that government has prioritised measures to strengthen the nation’s health security and has continued to prioritise investments in that area.

Ehanire said: “We have also continued to strengthen government’s ownership of our Field Epidemiology Training Programme with coordination by NCDC on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health and in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Environment.

“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.

“In the last one year, we have conducted population-based surveys for COVID-19 and published several papers describing our experience with the COVID-19 response and lessons that can be adopted in other countries.”

In his remarks, the Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, noted that Nigeria is not only faced with a pandemic but also multiple concurrent disease outbreaks.

According to him, “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 and poor socio-economic factors leave us at risk of yearly, multiple, concurrent disease outbreaks in Nigeria.”

He added: “We must, therefore, 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. Globally, there is a rise in anti-microbial resistance, and this will affect the prevention and management of infectious disease cases. We are also faced with increasing risks and prevalence of non-communicable diseases.”

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