The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) says the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unfortunate circumstances disrupting lives and livelihoods of not only Nigerians but the world at large.
Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director General of NCDC, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that fortunately, vaccines had contributed to providing a way out of the uncertainties posed by the pandemic.
NAN reports that Adetifa, who is less than two weeks as the director general of the agency, was as a result of the appointment of Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the former NCDC Director General, as Assistant Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to head its new pandemic intelligence hub in Berlin from Nov.1, 2021.
The NCDC boss said that although, Nigerians could look positively on was the spotlight that the pandemic had shone on the health sector, there was the need to strengthen this nationally, while contributing to global scientific knowledge.
“It has also provided an opportunity to strengthen the resilience of our health systems to respond better to current outbreaks and prepare for future public health threats.
“One key area we have improved on during the response is genomic surveillance. This enables immediate detection of emerging variants of concern so as to initiate and sustain required policy and public health response measures.
“Our focus remains to continue to support states and work with relevant institutions to sustain response efforts around surveillance, case management, laboratory diagnosis, and risk communication to keep our cases low,” he explained.
He said that the agency was also working closely with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure a successful vaccination campaign.
“Despite the unfortunate issues of lack of access which many regions of the world continue to face, we have made incredible progress.
“Vaccines have proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19 with benefits such as less severe outcomes and declines in hospitalisation,” he assured.
On the ongoing efforts to sustain the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, he said “for a few years, I had watched the progress at NCDC.
“I am not only proud of the agency but also challenged by the incredible work that has been done in the past five years.
“The speed at which capacities have been built here at NCDC, under the leadership provided by Ihekweazu.
“The strength, commitment and diligence of the NCDC staff and supporting partners give me hope and something to look forward to.
“My focus in the next few weeks is to work with this team, our sister agencies, and partners to understand their work better so we can collectively build on the gains made so far in line with the NCDC mandate,” he said.
The NCDC boss said that in the last 20 months, the agency, with the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, in collaboration with sister agencies and partners had continued to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“However, we have also continued to respond to concurrent outbreaks such as cholera, Lassa fever, yellow fever, and meningitis,” he said.(NAN)