Amid the COVID 19 pandemic, Nigeria has continued to witness concurrent outbreak of infectious diseases. PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA write on the need for the government to boost it’s level of preparedness.
There is no escape from disease outbreaks because climate change, urbanisation and a lack of adequate water and sanitation are all breeding grounds for fast-spreading, catastrophic outbreaks.
Even with the COVID 19 pandemic, Nigeria still battles with other infectious diseases like the ongoing cholera outbreak and the recent cases of Monkeypox.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) weekly epidemiological report, released on Monday, the country has recorded 526 deaths from the 22,130 cases of cholera reported in 18 states and the FCT.
The affected states are Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Nasarawa, Niger, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara and the FCT.
“There has been a decrease in the number of new cases in the last two weeks. Bauchi (2438), Kano (674), and Plateau (87) account for 91% of 3,519 cases.
“No new state reported cases in epi week 28, total of 1,634 suspected cases were reported this week representing a 13.3% decrease compared to 1885 suspected cases recorded in week 27
“As at July 22, 2021, a total of 22,130 suspected cases including 526 deaths (CFR 2.4%) have been reported from 18 states and FCT, the report said.
The NCDC said it has registered 59 suspected cases of Monkeypox with 15 confirmed.
Recall that a Texas resident who recently returned from Nigeria had tested positive for the Monkeypox
It was the first confirmed case of the virus in the U.S. since 2003, and aboratory tests confirmed that the patient was infected with a strain of the virus mainly seen in West Africa, which included Nigeris.
“In Nigeria, we have had over 170,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 2,000 deaths. It pains me to say that there is a possibility that we are yet to see the worst of this pandemic,” said NCDC DG, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
Ihekweazu, who stated this while speaking at the opening of the 2021 Nigerian Conference of Applied and Field Epsychology (NICAFE), organised by the NCDC, noted that the country is not just faced with a pandemic but multiple concurrent disease outbreaks.
“We are not only faced with a pandemic in Nigeria, but multiple concurrent disease outbreaks. In the last one month alone, we have been responding to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, outbreak of cholera in several state, panic associated with the detection of a monkeypox case in the US with travel history from Nigeria. 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, poor socio-economic factors leave us at risk of annual, multiple, concurrent disease outbreaks in Nigeria. Therefore, we must be one step ahead of these pathogens.
We must also think of the other public heath 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 antimicrobial 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,” he said.
According to the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, “In the last five years in Nigeria, we have prioritised measures to strengthen our health security. 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.
The minister, who stated this in his remarks at the NICAFE conference, added that the country has continued to strengthen government ownership of it’s Nigeria Field Epidemiology Training Programme, with coordination by NCDC on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health and collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Environment.
“The federal government has continued to prioritise investments in health security. These are a few examples of how we are strengthening health security and public health, and therefore field epidemiology,” he added.