Stakeholders advocate indigenous responses to tackle infectious diseases
To sustain the success achieved in stamping out the Ebola Virus Disease from across Africa, eminent health care practitioners in Nigeria and beyond have identified the development of home-based mechanisms, as well as local funding of research & development as effective ways of strengthening emergency responses to Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID).
The health professionals, who converged at the Eko Hotel & Suites, on 27 July, deliberated on topics such as EID; Biosecurity and Biothreat Reduction; Public Learning and Understanding of Science; Bioethics; Bio-banking; and Vaccine Strategy for the Ebola Belt of Africa.
In his welcome address at the event, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, noted that the conference was organised to consolidate the gains of the first conference, review the status of implementation of the resolutions, chart the way forward for prevention and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, and bring the issues of bio-security to the front burner.
“It is intended to help develop the continents’ own strategic intervention and response mechanisms to increasing outbreak of Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) and biological terrorism threats. These home-grown responses will be aligned with the evolving Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the “One Health” paradigm envisioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO)”, he said.
Dr Idris further explained that the three-day conference was important in the wake of the possibility of another infectious disease outbreak in Africa, stating that all it required was to have a formidable health care system that could withstand any epidemic.
“It doesn’t have to be Ebola or Lassa,” he said. “We need to be alert against any emergency. We are also here to share knowledge about ongoing researches and disseminate outcomes of such research that are beneficial to the populace”.
The Principal Investigator, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET) Prof. Akin Abayomi, while fielding questions from journalists at the event, emphasised the need for African countries to sponsor the continent’s medical research and development, adding that this would go a long way in resolving its internal challenges.
The GET’s coordinator, who condemned the concept of international donation for research, asserted that the trend should be reversed immediately so that African countries could take responsibility for their health and infectious disease responses.
“We have been relying entirely or to a significant degree on resources coming from outside Africa to fund research and development in Africa but this has not delivered the needed system to us. Hence, our own funding must come from our government, to support indigenous health care, tertiary academic units, so that we are not caught flat footed, like we were caught with Ebola.