Ebola Virus Disease, Lessons to Learn - Shamaki
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. (Mrs) Amina M. B. Shamaki, mni and leader of the Nigerian delegation to the 65th session of WHO Regional Committee for Africa meeting in N’Djamena, Chad Republic has called on the entire world to learn from the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and the strategy used by Nigeria in its containment.
She said though Nigeria was one of the first countries that was affected by the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa, but also became the first to be certified Ebola Virus Disease free during that cycle by the WHO on the 20th of October, 2014. “Our strategy for containing the EVD outbreak in Nigeria was simple but pragmatic and centered around the provision of responsive governance; driven by appropriate political will at the highest level with very clear leadership and command structure; unified team operations, strong partnerships as well as a well-coordinated all inclusive, multi-disciplinary Emergency Operation Centers (EOC)”
The EVD outbreak reveals inherent weakness and unpreparedness of countries’ Points of Entry to prevent trans-border spread of diseases. Closely related to this is the inability of countries to meet International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities. Maintaining a high level of preparedness and vigilance calls for a functional Port Health Services. In Nigeria, the State governments have functional Epidemic Preparedness and Response teams while public health laboratory network among and within States are being strengthened. Africa therefore needs public health institution whose mandate is to coordinate preparedness, detection, and timely response to public health emergencies. This calls for support of the international community and Partners for the establishment of African Centre for Disease Control with sub-regional centres.
She noted that in an epidemic of this magnitude, an early understanding of community socio-cultural practices and the engagement of the community in solving challenges is one of the factors that underlie the success of all other control measures. Measures such as contact tracing, early reporting of symptoms, adherence to recommended protective measures, and safe burials practices are critically dependent on a cooperative community. In Nigeria, she said “we are currently reviewing our National Health Policy towards the building of resilient health systems; we recognize that Global Health Security is not possible without a strong health system.Nigeria will therefore like to recommend that every step be taken to strengthen country health systems with their supporting infrastructures as a measure to ensuring global health security”.
In addition, she said utmost attention should be paid to the development of highly skilled workforce that is ready to be mobilized to respond to outbreaks.
Nigeria then used the opportunity to commend the Regional committee on the move towards the establishment of the African Centre for Disease Control and also appreciates the West African Health Community of the designation of Nigeria as the West African regional center for Disease Control. Nigeria remains committed and available to work with the WHO Regional office and the African Union towards the establishment of the ACDC.
In conclusion, it was recommended that attention should be paid to strengthening Port-Health services and ensuring that there is Laboratory networking within countries in order to strengthen their Individual Port Health Services in accordance to the IHR and for joint collaborative actions between the services across the region so as to limit and control the spread of Diseases across Boarders along with the coordination of international support and Aids to augment domestic resources. This calls for more integrated approach in the deployment of resources for maximum impact to be enhanced.
Dr. Shamaki also called on the WHO to review its health emergency protocols to enhance rapid declaration of Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC) and early mobilization of resources.
25TH NOV. 2015