FG expert tasks on health emergency preparedness

Public health expert Dr. Gabriel Adakole said as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government should strengthen health emergency preparedness based on a one-stop health approach. .
Adakole told Tide’s source in Abuja on Monday that the country could rebuild resilient health systems and an equitable society that would ensure universal health coverage (UHC) and social protection mechanisms for all.
Reports indicate that One-Health is an integrated and unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems.
It recognizes that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.
The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines and communities at different levels of society to work together to promote well-being and address threats to health and ecosystems, while meeting the collective need for food, clean water, energy and air.
The expert said the country has had some experiences in implementing the One Health approach.
“The National Avian Influenza Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee and National Avian Influenza Technical Committee set up in Nigeria in 2005, involved multidisciplinary staff from several ministries (including agriculture and health), communicators and industry players.
“The One-Health approach resulted in a successful multi-sector emergency action plan that led to the elimination of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus from the country in 2006,” he said. .
According to him, despite all the progress made with One Health in the country, the 2020 review by the International Livestock Research Institute identified gaps in implementation.
This included the lack of awareness among policy makers and the public of One Health issues such as hygiene, biosecurity and antimicrobial resistance.
“Other shortcomings included the insufficient contribution of financial, human and material resources by governments and the lack of One Health policies, guidelines and strategic plans in the country.
“The review also identified weak linkages and unhealthy rivalry between various sectors, poor data sharing and communication between relevant sectors, and a lack of zoonotic disease data to guide One Health policymaking,” said he declared.
Adakole said the one health approach was a key ingredient in the fight against present and future pandemics in the country.
“If we can be consistent with this approach, we will make a lot of progress,” he said.
He said there was a need to establish connectivity among all stakeholders to ensure efficiency, cost-effectiveness and optimal public health outcomes.
“Areas of work in which a One-Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, control of zoonoses and the fight against antibiotic resistance.
“One Health can be achieved through joint efforts in clinical care through the assessment, treatment, and prevention of cross-species disease transmission.
“Until we stop politicizing the One Health Concept in Nigeria, our approach to emergency preparedness for emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases will continue to be distorted and will yield little or no results. “, did he declare.
Adakole called on stakeholders to come up with a framework to guide the integration of One-Health practices across the country.
“It is essential to raise awareness and increase understanding of One Health at all levels of society.
“Advocacy, communication and social mobilization strategies need to be scaled up to ensure buy-in from policy makers and the public to catalyze collaborative and proactive One Health action.
He explained that strong governance and leadership was needed across all One Health sectors in the country, with inter-ministerial, multi-sector and interdisciplinary collaboration, as coordination mechanisms to improve data sharing and limit territoriality.
Adakole said economic interventions, political agreements and social justice policies aimed at addressing the socio-economic inequalities that drive conflict across the country would support SDG 10 – reduced inequalities.
“Only by fully implementing One Health approaches will the country, and indeed humanity, effectively and sustainably prevent and respond to epidemics and achieve global health and food security,” a- he declared.

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