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February 24, 2024

COVID-19: Nigeria embarks on integrated health emergency

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By Abujah Racheal

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said it was transiting the country from acute emergency response to managing COVID-19 as part of integrated healthcare delivery for all infectious diseases.

This is followed by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration that COVID-19 is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The NCDC via its official website on Monday, said Nigeria had already de-escalated its COVID-19 response since 2022 in response to local epidemiology, and focused on encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and recommended discretionary use of face masks and other public health safety measures according to personal risk assessments.

The Nigeria Public Health Institute said that the move was complemented by efforts to leverage the pandemic response (lessons, resources, partnerships, etc) to improve national health security.

It said the improvement would be through health system strengthening, improving public health emergency management training, and laboratory and infrastructure aa upgrades.

It added that it would make strategic focus on improving emergency preparedness and planning at state and local government levels.

“As part of its integrated disease surveillance strategy, the NCDC continues to encourage routine COVID-19 testing along with other infectious diseases as may be indicated in healthcare settings.

This is part of clinical care for pandemic flu preparedness, as part of bi-directional testing during investigations for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria, and in high-risk populations.

“Working with partners, the NCDC is also piloting pan-respiratory virus surveillance which is aligned with WHO’s recently declared preparedness and resilience for emerging threats (PRET) initiative,” it said.

The NCDC said that as part of the genomic surveillance, the centre would introduce wastewater/environmental surveillance to track not just SARS-CoV-2 but antimicrobial resistance, Mpox and typhoid (salmonella).

“Finally, we continue to work on consolidating COVID-19 pandemic laboratory investments into a cohesive tiered national network of public health laboratories as prescribed in the NCDC Act (2018).

“With the continued emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, our frequent and often concurrent disease outbreaks and public health investments made during the pandemic to ensure health security in the country will need to be sustained,” it explained.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Friday, the Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, declared that COVID-19 was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concerns (PHEIC).

The declaration was made after a careful review of current evidence that shows there is high population-level immunity from the SARS-CoV-2 infection, improved knowledge of the virus and management of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

There is also a decline in the global burden of the virus, and also a steady increase in vaccine uptake across countries.

“The declaration that COVID-19 is no longer PHEIC is to enable countries’ transition from acute emergency response to managing COVID-19 as part of integrated healthcare delivery for all infectious diseases.”

The health organisation said the threat of the virus remained within countries and globally and particularly for high-risk groups,” Ghebreyesus said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Idris Abdulrahman

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