The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unfortunate circumstances disrupting the lives and livelihoods of not only Nigerians, but the world at large.
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said in Abuja that fortunately, vaccines had contributed to providing a way out of the uncertainties posed by the pandemic.
Adetifa, has spent less than two weeks as the director-general of the agency,
His appointment 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 to head its new pandemic intelligence hub in Berlin from November 1, 2021.
The NCDC boss said there was the need to strengthen the health sector nationally while also contributing to global scientific knowledge, noting that the pandemic has helped improve the health sector in some ways.
“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 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 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, 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.
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