By Abujah Racheal
Abuja, Oct. 2, 2020 The Coronavirus (COVID-19) experience has made a stronger case for governments at all levels in Nigeria to improve funding to the health sector, with the target of achieving efficient surveillance and rapid case detection and response in case of a future disease outbreak in the country.
Naija247news reports that this was the resolution of speakers at a “close out” dissemination seminar on Friday in Abuja to Strengthening Epidemic Response and System (SERS) project held at the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) headquarters in Abuja.
The SERS Project is a Global Health Security (GHS) award from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), as the technical implementing partner and Center for Clinical Care and Clinical Research (CCCRN), as a sub-awardee. It was a 5-year grant with an objective to strengthen primarily two GHS Action packages.
The Project was at the end of its 5th year of implementation and is now planning to close out. This had necessitated the initiative of having to disseminate the achievements and products of the grant to stakeholders.
At the seminar, the Head of Department, Surveillance and Epidemiology Department, NCDC, Mrs Elsie Ilori, highlighted that the impact of SERS project is to the work at the UMB, through the SERS project, set the basis of NCDC’s use of technology for disease surveillance and information management, including the “establishment of our 24/7 Call-Centre”.
Dr Mahesh Swaminathan, US CDC, Nigeria Country Representative, said that the NCDC leads infectious disease diagnosis and prevention in Nigeria, and is now pushing the barrier through research.
“We will not only hope to provide continuous technical assistance, but to learn from the process,” said Swaminathan.
In his remarks, the Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the US CDC Nigeria, through the UMB, was one of the foremost partners at the NCDC.
Ihekweazu said that these entities were embedded in the team and have supported the agency from the beginning.
“We’re grateful to the US CDC and all the partners supporting us to deliver on disease surveillance for Nigeria,” he said.
In her vote of thanks, Mrs Sylvia Adebajo, UMB Nigeria Country Director, expressed gratitude to the NCDC and the Federal Ministry for Health, UMB team and all colleagues who contributed to the milestone.
Adebajo said that the meeting marked an end to the SERAd project in the country, but that UMB was already making arrangement on the next phase of partnership.
“The university will be working with the Institute of Human Virology for an Intervention to further strength surveillance and response in Nigeria.
“We look forward to sustaining the relationships built in response to COVID-19 and future outbreaks,” she said.