The risk of infectious diseases has increased tremendously, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
He stated this during the opening of the 55th scientific conference of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria (AMLSN) in Abuja.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the global health security agenda arose in response to the risk humanity is facing from the emergence and re-emergence of highly infectious diseases that pose great risk to public health globally.
“With the world becoming a global village and increased human movement across countries, the risk of infectious diseases has increased tremendously,” he said.
Global health security agenda was launched in February 2014 and it is a growing partnership of over 64 nations, international organisations and non-governmental stakeholders. This is to help build the countries’ capacities to help keep the world safe and secure from infectious diseases spread, which elevates global health security as a national and global priority.
“Its aim is to strengthen national and global capacity to prevent, to check and respond to human and animal infections whether nationally or foreign or accidentally or deliberately spread. Global health security agenda brings to fore the need to have a sustainable laboratory system,” he said.
He pointed out that the conference was apt due to the problem we are experiencing in the country and globally with the infectious diseases.
Nigeria was confronted with various disease outbreaks with some unpleasant consequences, notably the Ebola virus of 2014.
The diseases, he said, are of public health interest and affect the socio- economic structure of people and the development of the country. There have been significant improvements in prevention, detection surveillance and response to these diseases of public health interest despite casualties recorded during their outbreaks. Nigeria, with support from relevant partners, has adopted and strengthened the structure and process required in the management of these diseases’ threat and their impact on the nation. Nigeria is a signatory to the international resolution on global health security, which includes the international health regulation, integrated disease surveillance and response and global health security agenda.
The former Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, who chaired the conference, warned that the spread of infectious diseases can be used as an instrument of terror. He added that infectious diseases now spread quickly more than ever, while the new emerging and existing bacterial are becoming resistant to available anti-biotics. The former minister hinted that as people travel freely across borders, there is high possibility that infectious diseases can be used as instrument of terror.
“I want to remind you of something already known. Infectious diseases spread more quickly than they have ever been and also, we have new bacterial, we have existing bacterial that are becoming very resistant to the available anti-biotics.
‘’Also, diseases spread crazy because of so many things; the way we travel round the world right now promotes easy spread of diseases. Then, there are other threats and we cannot rule out the possibility of the uses of disease as an instrument for terror. We know that given our experience, particularly in West Africa, the impact of serious outbreak is something that we can recollect. The impact is on socio sphere, the economic sphere and even the political sphere.
“The security agenda acknowledges the essential needs for a multilateral and multi-sectoral approach to strengthen both the global capacity and the capacity of nations to prevent, to detect threats and to respond to infectious diseases. The crucial roles of the medical laboratory scientists in not only achieving the visions and goals of the GHSA, but also in ensuring the provision of GHSA services anywhere in the world, including my dear country Nigeria is in-contestable,” he said.
AMLSN President Bassey Iyang stressed the importance of laboratory tests to global health and security, adding that early detection of diseases requires a rapid testing capacity.
He described global health security as activities required to minimise the danger and impact of acute public health events that endanger the collective public heath of populations living across geographic regions and international boundaries.