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Only Strategic Preparedness Can Save Us From Emerging Infectious Diseases - Gov. Sanwo-Olu

Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has emphasised that strategic preparedness against pathogens of high consequence and infectious disease is key to strengthening Africa’s resilience in tackling emerging Biosecurity threats. Sanwo-Olu, who disclosed this on Thursday at the Policy Session of the ongoing 6th African Conference on ‘One-Health and Biosecurity’ hosted by the Lagos Ministry of Health, in partnership with GET Consortium, explained that only strategic and effective level of preparedness can save the human race from emerging infectious diseases. He noted that Lagos is still learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that identified gaps in the State's response to the infection will be bridged to strengthen resilience in effectively tackling pandemics and other infectious diseases that may occur in future. The Governor restated his commitment to building the infrastructure that will adequately prepare the State for a future health crisis, while noting that quality and equitable health services remain paramount. “Infrastructure is also very important, people need to see that we are scaling up, not only on training or skill development but real infrastructure on ground. We will ensure we build structures that can outlive us and that is why I am happy to also re-inform us again that we have plans to build an Africa Infectious Disease Centre, which is for research and development of infectious disease knowledge and management at our Infectious Disease hospital in Yaba”, he stated.

Sanwo-Olu added that his administration recognises the need to upscale its preparedness against future biosecurity threats, especially after having learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the State does not want to be just an epicentre but also engage in research and development that will beneficial for future generations. While commending the efforts of the organisers of the 6th African Conference on ‘One-Heath and Biosecurity’, the Governor maintained that the importance of strategic health conferences should not be overlooked because it will help guide health policies, plans and programmes in order to improve and protect the health status of citizens. Earlier in his remark, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, said that the three-day event was planned to bring together a consortium of African Scientist, Medical Practitioners and Experts in related health fields to raise awareness about public health threats to Africa Communities and States. He said the conference themed: “Strengthening Africa's Resilience in Tackling Emerging Biosecurity Threats: Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic”, was well thought out as there is the need to continually emphasise the key importance of the African response in combating emerging infectious diseases and preparedness against future biosecurity threats. “This conference has been going on for six years in collaboration with the Global Emerging Pathogen Consortium, which is a consortium of African Scientists, Advocates and civil societies who are trying to raise the awareness of public health threats to governments, agencies and communities to help people develop capacity against biosecurity threat”, Abayomi said. The Commissioner emphasised the importance of securing the environment, stressing that the health of human beings depends on the health of the environment they live in. “Biosecurity simply means that the environment we live in is safe. When we talk of biosecurity we talk of the security of the sphere we live and when the sphere is not secured, we as humans are at risk of either excessive pollution or infections. We have to be very careful about how we interact with society because there is a possibility that these pathogens can move from the environment into the population”, he explained. He noted that the leading role played by Lagos in the containment of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria coupled with proactive steps taken by the State against the raging COVID-19 infectious disease makes it top choice for hosting the conference which is one of the biggest biosecurity conferences in Africa. Abayomi opined that resolutions at the Conference will help chart a positive course for strategic response against Biosecurity threats in Africa and by extension the world, adding that the conference will afford Lagos the opportunity to review its strategic response against emerging infectious diseases. Images-FB/@followlasg

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