Home Health & Food Develop Nigeria’s capacity to fight future pandemics, virologist tells FG

Develop Nigeria’s capacity to fight future pandemics, virologist tells FG

by James Davies

A virologist at the University of Ilorin, Prof. Olatunji Kolawole, has called on the Federal Government to develop and improve the capacity of the country to fight future outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Kolawole, a professor of Medical Virology and Environmental Health, made the call on Friday, during a Public Lecture at Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo.

The lecture, organised by Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Igbinedion University, had the theme: “Combating Communicable Diseases: The Nigerian Experience.”

The environmental health expert said the call became necessary because some clusters of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) had been identified in the country.

“While virologists are not in the business of instilling fear, the potential impact of another viral hemorrhagic fever outbreak in the country is enormous.

“It is on record that West Nile virus, Zika virus, Rift valley fever virus, Yellow fever virus, Chikungunya virus and Dengue virus have all been identified in clusters in Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, there is a need for every government to make investments in health security in the same way that investments are made in cybersecurity, and others.

“Like in the words of Richard Hatchett, government’s, just to say, have invested in cybersecurity, to address computer viruses in a digitally interconnected world.

“They need to invest in biosecurity to address real viruses in a biologically interconnected world,” the virologist said.

Kolawole, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Control of Communicable Diseases, decried the approach to combating infectious diseases globally.

He said the experience had clearly shown that the natural approach to predictions and combating communicable diseases globally as humans, were generally reactive than proactive.

He identified communicable diseases as the major cause of death in Nigeria.

He said it accounted for over 76 per cent of child mortality in the country.

“The disease experience in Nigeria has been that of emerging and re-emerging outbreaks.

“Nigeria has the highest burden of infectious diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa and has seen recurrent outbreaks of diseases such as Lassa fever, Cholera, Yellow fever, Meningitis, and Poliomyelitis among others in the last decade,” he said.

Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said the public lecture was in continuation of the series by colleges, instituted two years ago to promote an interface between the university’s gown and town.

In the furtherance of its research and development drive, the vice-chancellor said the college, through the Department of Microbiology, recently completed a research project.

He said the research was on molecular characterisation and antimicrobial resistance profile of Staphylococcus aureus colonising students in Okada.

He said the department was also engaged in research on the use of chromolaena odorata (medical plant) to treat infection caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 


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