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Invest more in biosecurity, experts urge African leaders



Biosecurity experts have decried the lack of proper infrastructures in Africa while urging leaders to invest in the health sector.

At the 7th African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity organised by the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium, biosecurity experts urged African leaders to build more biosecurity infrastructures, saying this would secure Africa’s biosphere and prevent pathogens.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said “Climate change is forcing massive migration to cities; environmental destruction is increasing the contact between humans and wildlife which promotes disease outbreak; there is also rapid interconnectivity through air transportation.

“Africa compared to the rest of the world remains susceptible to novel infectious diseases as laboratory facilities for testing, diagnosis, and research of pathogens of high consequence are severely limited.

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“For instance, when you look at Africa continent, only Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal have been able to build level three laboratory while South Africa is the only country with level four biosecurity in the whole continent. Lagos State government have been able to acquired level two and three. We are working towards acquiring level four because to handle some of these pathogens you need this infrastructure”.

Abayomi said each country had the moral responsibility to protect its people within the social contract from biological crises and threats.

“In fulfilling this responsibility, the government must be able to do the following; pre-empt and prevent biosecurity threat, predict, mitigate, adapt, find and clearly identify a threat when it emerges, stop it promptly, restore calm and civil disruption and avoid economic collapse,” the Commissioner said.

The Chief Operating Officer, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium, Dr Dotun Bobadoye, said some African countries have experienced devastating effects of emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever and cholera in the last few years.

“As of the first week of October 2021, nearly 240 million people have been infected with COVID-19 with five million deaths globally. These events clearly underscore human vulnerability towards pathogens in our present world,” he said.

Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director and Chief Executive, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, also said it was unfortunate that Nigeria still depends on global community to meet its vaccine need.

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