A Nigerian virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has called for the assessment and maintenance of COVID-19 infrastructures across the country.
Tomori, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited (BVNL), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
The professor of virologist emphasised the need to take stock of the investments made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
He stressed the importance of assessing the current state of COVID-19 investments – specially equipped isolation wards, laboratories, oxygen production factories, etc- to determine their functionality across the country.
He highlighted the need for regular provision of funds to ensure the maintenance and continued operation of these facilities.
Furthermore, he proposed integrating the Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) with existing epidemiology divisions and departments in each state of the Federation.
He emphasised the necessity of providing funds needed for the basic activities of these divisions, including transportation and funds for field investigation, sample shipment, and laboratory reagents and diagnostics.
“These are sine qua non for effective epidemiological surveillance, early disease detection, reliable laboratory confirmation, and rapid institution of effective response,” he said.
He underscored that adequate recurrent funding was essential for sustained and effective disease surveillance in the country.
He also emphasised the importance of prevention over outbreak control, stating that it was more cost-effective to invest in preventive measures.
He urged all the tiers of government to recognise that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom from disease outbreaks.
“We cannot afford to take our eyes off the surveillance ball, therefore, we must regularly and timely allocate sufficient funds accordingly,” he advised.
NAN recalled that at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline healthcare workers received training and infrastructure for managing suspected cases while following safety protocols.
Capacity development targeted isolation facilities, COVID-19 testing, and training, resulting in 131 accredited treatment centers with 7,040 beds in 6 months.
The The Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), decentralized testing, leading to 98 operational laboratories by December 31, 2020.
Over 35,500 healthcare workers were trained on infection prevention, and protocols for case management were established.
The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, in collaboration with various partners, played a crucial role in these efforts, conducting regular national case reviews.
The surveillance and epidemiology pillar, led by the NCDC, focused on early case detection, reporting, and coordinated outbreak response through three phases: prevention and preparedness, containment, and control and mitigation.
In the prevention and preparedness phase, the NCDC trained and deployed staff, identified entry points, developed guidelines, and conducted simulation exercises. (NAN)