June 13, 2024

Lagos Hosts African Discourse on Health Security and Biological Threats

Lagos State is hosting fourth-time African discourse on health security to mitigate biological threats and consolidate the gains made in tackling different emerging infectious diseases on the continent.

The 3-day Pan-African discourse which is the 8th has as its theme: “Strengthening Health Security and Mitigating Biological Threats in Africa” and is scheduled to hold at the civic centre, between Wednesday 2nd and Friday 4th November 2022. 

Speaking at a media chat to announce the event, State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, noted that the Ministry is partnering with a non-governmental organization, the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment (GET) Consortium to develop a biosecurity road map and increase African continent resilience towards building capacity to deal with pathogens of high consequence.

According to the Commissioner, LASG recognises that the low-line coastal nature of the city with high population density and a commercial hub in sub-Saharan Africa is vulnerable to health and biological threats.

He said it has become highly essential for the government to improve its preparedness against biological threats and build appropriate infrastructure to manage and mitigate dangerous pathogens of high consequence.

The commissioner pointed out that since 2015 government has collaborated with the GET consortium, the World Health Organization, WHO, the United Nations, ECOWAS through the West African Health Authority, the African Union, and Nigerian Center for Disease Control as well as various donor agencies such as Gates Foundation to chart a pathway for health and biosecurity in the state.

“So hosting this conference in Lagos, indicates to us that the African think tank recognizes that Lagos is a significant location for discourse and action on biosecurity and one health paradigm.

“We’ve been working assiduously with these organizations to build the appropriate infrastructure, train and improve the capacity of appropriate personnel to be able to manage dangerous pathogens such as Ebola, Lassa Fever, COVID, Yellow Fever, Marburg Fever and any agent that is considered to be a pathogen of high consequence”, said

Great Scientists and experts from different parts of the world are expected to share their knowledge and expertise on biological threats, discuss the global phenomenon of the rising incidence of outbreaks and pandemics particularly as the global environment is changing, and then, proffer solutions to several environmental health issues of global dimension.

Chief Operating Officer of GET Consortium, Dr. Ayodotun Bobadoye noted that with the frequency and intensity of biological threats in infectious disease in recent years, there is no better time to organize a conference to discuss mitigating biological threats than now.

According to Bobadoye, “We are bringing together policymakers, scientists, the academia, non-governmental organizations, journalists, and security experts both within and outside the country to discuss how we can effectively mitigate the impact of emerging biosecurity threats, especially in Africa.

“It is a hope that at the end of his conference we will come up with a communique based on the strategies discussed at the conference, the side events, and everything that we will be doing in three days that will effectively address how we can contribute to strengthening our health not just in Nigeria but also on the continent of Africa and how we can mitigate this particular biological threat that’s continual with us as a people, as a nation, and as a continent.”, He said.

Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo acknowledged that the conference will help operationalize WHO’s one health approach in preparing and strengthening Africa’s capacity to address health security.

He noted WHO is working hand in hand with the Nigerian government, and the Lagos State to transform approaches from preparedness, detection, and response to outbreak exchange adding that the Director General of WHO has announced new strategies in supporting countries to prepare and respond to emergencies.

Molumbo said, the WHO regional office, has launched three flagship programs; first, addresses the capacity to prepare for emergencies; the second, addresses the capacity to detect early in order to respond in a timely fashion and the third one is in collaboration with Africa CDC, is on strengthening and utilizing the response group for emergencies.

Lagos State is one of the six states scheduled to commence the piloting of the new WHO initiative. 

“We want to work with Lagos and use Lagos example to scale up best practices, and from a conference like this, I think we didn’t make a mistake by choosing Lagos alongside five other states and I’m happy that Lagos will be on track and contribute with the recommendation of this high-level event to the global economy when it comes to addressing emergency preparedness”, Molumbo said.

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