INSIDEMAINLAND – The Lagos State Government said it has become urgent to protect the residents of the state from the next infectious disease outbreak even as the Deputy Regional Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, Dr. Richard Munang, said Biosecurity threats cost African countries over US$ 420 billion.
Speaking at the 8th African Conference on Health and Biosecurity with the theme of “Strengthening Health Security and Mitigating Biological Threats in Africa,” Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu revealed the state’s plans to protect the state and said their strategy rests on three major pillars: strengthening health systems, molecular genomic suite infectious disease research that will be policy-driven.
According to Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, the state has already begun integrating pandemic preparedness into the fabric of the healthcare system with its fit-for-purpose pandemic-ready healthcare facilities, improved working conditions that make health professionals more comfortable, and efforts to stop the brain drain.
He said, “We have continuously invested in the capacity of the Lagos State Biobank to sequence variants of infectious diseases. We believe that Genomic sequencing will determine the future pace of healthcare in Lagos State. We are implementing a robust research agenda for Lagos State. We are building the Lagos State Infectious Diseases Research Institute. Our fit-for-purpose blueprint health facilities are convertible to Isolation Centres in the event of a pandemic. We will promulgate the appropriate laws to drive our plans.”
Speaking at the event was Dr. Richard Munang, the Deputy Regional Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), who revealed that biosecurity concerns cost African countries about US$ 420 billion. Dr. Munang emphasized the importance of finding solutions and the need for one-health.
Munang estimates that just 32% of Africa’s biosecurity and biosafety capacity exists.
He added that in order to prevent, manage and treat biosafety issues on the continent, the One Health approach—which integrates human, environmental, animal, planet, and health—was essential.
Munang reiterated that environmental degradation, pollution, and climate change are causing an increase in infectious diseases both in Africa and around the world.
He claimed that the answer was One Health, an integrated strategy that supports human medicine.
“Our UNEP work on climate action nature action and pollution action offers a strategic pathway for One Health.”
“Managing temperatures that encourage pathogen growth, recovering degraded regions to lessen the effects of habitat loss that raise the danger of infections spreading to humans, and other environmental factors all contribute to biosecurity issues”.
Prof. Akin Abayomi, who spoke on behalf of the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, revealed that the conference’s goals are to create a biosecurity roadmap and strengthen Africa’s resilience in order to boost the continent’s capacity to handle infections of significant impact.
Abayomi added that the conference will make sure that the continent improves its health security to lessen biological risks and consolidate the progress made in combating various emerging infectious illnesses.
“A city like Lagos is vulnerable to biological threats making it important for us to improve its preparedness against biological threats and build appropriate infrastructure to manage and mitigate dangerous pathogens of high consequence.
“The continents have continued to work 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.”
Dr. Ayodotun Bobadoye, the Chief Operating Officer of the GET Consortium, shared his opinion on the conference, noting that it brought together security specialists from both inside and outside the nation as well as policymakers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and scientists.
Also, the conference’s main focus was on effective ways for the continent to lessen the effects of new biosecurity concerns.
He urged countries to treat the issue of biosecurity seriously and added that the conference couldn’t have come at a better time given the recent rise in the frequency and severity of biological threats in infectious illnesses.