No fewer than 1,000 Nigerians die annually as a result of disease epidemics, a public health expert, Prof. Akin Osibogun, said on Saturday in Lagos.
Osibogun, a former Chief Medical Director (CMD) of LUTH, Lagos, disclosed this at the 8th annual symposium of the Health Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HEWAN).
The symposium’s theme was “Emergency Response to Disease Outbreaks: The Way Forward in Nigeria’’.
He said that the deaths were due to the leadership’s lack of political will and preparedness to combat disease epidemics in the country.
Osibogun also said that it was unfortunate that Nigeria was still unprepared should the Ebola Virus Disease resurface in the country.
”Unfortunately, I will say no, Nigeria is still not prepared if Ebola Virus Disease resurfaces in the country again.
”In 2014, the Federal Government promised to establish six functional laboratories but nothing of such is yet to be set up.
”Yes, the government has done well with the establishment of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) but there is yet to be a law in place to back up that centre and strengthen its operations.
”Also, we do not have a national plan of action yet so we can be well prepared for any form of disease outbreak, ” he said.
Osibogun said that it was far cheaper to be prepared than to combat disease outbreaks.
He said that a strong health system was better and will be able to prevent disease epidemics and respond faster to save lives.
“’Political commitment is highly required to make adequate funds available to provide needed infrastructure such as laboratories for prompt diagnosis, researches, treatment centres and medical equipment.
”There should be constant training and retraining of medical personnel for emergency preparedness .
“There must be strong collaboration between the Federal and State governments and other health agencies to how to contain outbreaks.
“’So, as a nation we need to anticipate epidemics and be well prepared via surveillance system, investigation control measures, implementation of prevention measures as well as continuous monitoring, ” he said.
Also speaking, Hon. Olusegun Olulade, Chairman, House Committee on Health, Lagos State House of Assembly said that the issue of health was a collective project that should not be left alone in the hands of government.
“Without good health, there will be no meaningful life; that is why health should be a collective project for both the government and the people.
“At the assembly, we do over sights to monitor happenings in our health facilities as well as sponsor bills and policies such as the Health Insurance Scheme which will commence in 2018, to ensure that we secure the health of residents in the state.
“Government alone cannot do it, I call on religious bodies and corporate organisations to support the government by establishing health centres for the benefit of the public, ” he said.
In his address, Dr Emmanuel Enabulele, Chairman, HEWAN Board of Trustees, said that the symposium was to highlight major health issues in the country such as epidemics.
Enabulele urged journalists to ensure constant and adequate reportage of health issues to make the government more proactive and enlighten the people.
“Quick intervention to health issues, especially disease outbreaks is about the ‘Political Will’ and the ‘Can Do Spirit’ to save lives and avoid preventable deaths,” he said.