NCDC DG Chikwe Ihekweazu: updates active COVID-19 cases

NCDC DG Chikwe Ihekweazu 

By Muhammad Nur

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has restated its commitment to work with state governments to end epidemics in the country.

Dr Oyeladun Okunromade, Deputy Director, NCDC, and head of International Health Regulation, made the pledge on Tuesday, at the opening of a four-day State health security assessment in Kano.

She said that the Nigerian government, through the NCDC, would partner with states in the prevention, preparedness, detection, response and control of infectious diseases outbreaks in Nigeria, which were being recorded annually.

“In 2019 alone, 760 LGAs in the 36 states and the FCT, reported 45,614 cases of epidemic-prone diseases.
“Unless controlled early, outbreaks are associated with high death count, social disruptions, as well as financial and economic damages for individuals and communities,” she said.

Okunromade said that the current COVID-19 pandemic had proved, more than ever, the need for public health emergency preparedness at the state level, to ensure local detection and action in reducing the impact of the outbreaks.

She said that the sub-national health security assessments aimed to provide states with baseline data to inform planning processes on preventing epidemics and other public health threats.

“The assessment is an abridged form of the WHO-led Joint External Evaluation (JEE). The exercise is a voluntary, collaborative assessment of a country’s ability to find, rapidly stop, and prevent disease outbreaks and other public health threats,” Okunromade added.

The deputy director said that the objective of the assessment was to identify opportunities for enhanced preparedness and response, using field data at the individual state level.

She added that it would also identify the most critical gaps for health security within the state – using a multi-sectoral approach, as well as provide states an assessment of the capacities to be used for activity prioritisation, advocacy, resource mobilization and partner alignments.

“It is not a matter of if, but when another epidemic will threaten the safety and security of our citizens. We need to be prepared to protect all Nigerians against future epidemic threats, irrespective of where they live.

“Nigeria Center for Disease Control had demonstrated her capability as a leading public health institution in Nigeria and within our sub region, coordinating health security among all sectors in Nigeria, in taking action,” she added.

Earlier, Dr Bashir Muhammad, the state epidemiologist, stated that the programme was an internal joint external evaluation being piloted in Kebbi, Kano and Enugu states.

Bashir, who is also the deputy director, public health and incidence manager emergency operations center, noted that Kano was the first state to domesticate the National Action Plan on health security in 2020.

He commended the state Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, for his stride in providing efficient health care delivery in the state, while also acknowledging the state COVID-19 response team, taskforce on COVID-19, and NCDC for their efforts in managing the first and second wave of the pandemic in the state.