The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said that the state will soon begin the construction of an infectious disease institute and permanent isolation facilities.
According to Abayomi, designs for both buildings are complete and funding is available.
He added that individuals who would work in these buildings are already being trained.
Prof. Abayomi disclosed this on Wednesday while speaking during an event organised by the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium to discuss a partnership for a Bio-secured Africa.
The building of these infrastructures, Abayomi explained, is in response to a systemic and strategic approach to ensure Lagos can respond quickly to biological shocks.
Prof. Abayomi said, “Lagos is building a very sophisticated infectious disease research institute at Yaba sometime this year.
“It is what we call the biosecurity infrastructure. There, we would develop the ability to genomically analyse what is going on in our environment so that we can determine what variants of COVID-19, monkeypox, or anything else happening.
“There are four levels going from mild to moderate to severe to extreme and it is very skilled people that work in BSL 3 and BSL 4. The design is complete and the funding is available we just need to break ground and start construction and we are beginning to train people that will be working there.
“We are going to break ground to build this facility which is going to become the leading infectious disease research institute I believe in the sub-region,” he said.
In addition, he said, “We are building permanent isolation facilities instead of the tents. This is to ensure we don’t manage sick people in the open. They are very spacious and designed especially to accommodate people who are sick with pathogens and highly contagious. There will also be a lot of fresh air coming in so we can easily manage patients.
“This is one of the very exciting projects that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has approved.
“It is called the Lagos State Medical Industrial and Innovation Zone and it is going to be Lagos States’ ability to manufacture medical products, and consumables but also to develop an innovation pipeline such that anytime we are faced with biological shocks we have scientists that can respond.”
He said that during COVID-19 and Ebola, temporary facilities had to be built.
He, however, noted that Lagos is moving away from it, noting that this is because they are expensive, do not last long, and are difficult to manage.
The commissioner stated further that creating a bio-secure Africa is everyone’s business.
Abayomi, who was the keynote speaker at the event said streams in Lagos that were previously filled with fresh water and green vegetation are now dead, adding that any live thing kept in the water will die.
The health commissioner also stated that water from boreholes and wells in Lagos is unfit for human and animal consumption, because of dangerous pathogens that have gone into water aquifers.
He said, “I dare you to put your foot in the stream water and see what will happen or even drink from the water.
“When you burn diesel with a generator or when you throw your dead cell phone into the garbage and it goes into the refuse dump when it rains, all those poisons and chemicals from the footprint of mankind from the surface of the earth goes into the water aquifers, which is an eco-system itself and is supposed to be clean.
“We drill our boreholes and try to raise the water to the surface to use. Many Lagosians know all their boreholes and wells are not fit for human consumption and not even fit for animal consumption because we have tried it and if you test the water that comes out of these aquifers in Lagos you find out that you cannot use them for consumption. And that is not a theory, it is a fact,” he said.
The commissioner for health recalled that about five years ago, girls in queens college fell sick because they were drinking water from a borehole.
He explained that several of the girls died while the rest were placed on very expensive antibiotics before they got better.
He said, “I am standing here as the commissioner for health and I am telling you that our health system is weak.
“We have got sanitation and waste problem. We have a very large number of pathogens.”
Abayomi, therefore, implored all government, private sectors, stakeholders, and others to ensure we have a biosecurity framework and we can respond quickly to biological shocks.
He said, “We must be able to predict and preempt or listen to people about our issues.
“We must be able to mitigate and find the pathogen early and stop it because in Lagos residents live like sardines. So. any form of contagion whether its water borne, air borne or contact borne, it will spread like wildfire.
“It is the responsibility of this government to bring an outbreak under control and restore calm.
“It requires a systemic and strategic approach and that is why we are here today to ask for the support of private sectors and others and to recognise that we are a very vulnerable environment and our resilience is very low.
“The best policies that will protect the health system is to recognise and value the role of nature in reducing systemic risks and mitigate the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks by addressing their root causes,” the commissioner said.
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