WHO identifies gaps in Nigeria’s readiness for epidemics


THE World Health Organization (WHO) has called on Federal Government to prioritise health funding in the fight against outbreaks of diseases in the country.

WHO urged the government to pick lessons from the outbreaks of COVID-19 pandemic and diseases such as Lassa fever and Cholera which it said exposed gaps in the country’s preparedness for epidemics.

The WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Kazadi Mulombo stated this during the 3rd edition of Nigeria Health Watch Prevent Epidemics Journalism Awards in Abuja on Friday, January 27.

“If unchecked it, gaps in preparedness can result in terrible danger. Nigeria needs a pivot to prevention in the fight against diseases by addressing the root causes.

“While there is no single pathway to epidemic prevention, all countries must find their way in the context of their own social, political and economic circumstances,” Mulombo said.

Represented by the Medical Officer (Emergency Programming and Response, Victor Tugumizemu, the WHO representative said Nigeria bears the highest burden of tuberculosis and paediatric HIV.

WHO Country Representative,  Walter Kazadi Mulombo

Similarly, he said the country accounts for 50 per cent of tropical diseases in Africa and contributes 27 per cent of global cases of malaria and 24 per cent of deaths.

According to Mulombo; “Non-Communicable Diseases account for 29 per cent of all deaths in Nigeria with premature mortality from the four main NCDs (hypertension, diabetes, cancers and malnutrition) accounting for 22 per cents of all deaths”.

He added that the number of people in need of humanitarian relief in the world has increased by almost a quarter compared to 2022, to a record of 339 million.

“The foundation everywhere must be a political commitment to building a strong health system, based on primary care, with emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion,” he added.

Also speaking, the Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu called on Nigerians to “hold politicians accountable in order to improve public health in the spirit of electioneering campaigns and voting for new leaders”.

Ihekweazu said health security should not be seen as the responsibility of the Federal Government alone, but also state and local governments.

Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu

Meanwhile, the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Ifedayo Adetifa commended the role of the media in tackling epidemic.


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