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Nigeria unprepared for next disease epidemic — SURVEY

After experiencing series of disease epidemics including Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, Lassa fever, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, CSM, among others in recent times, Nigeria is not ready for the next epidemic, according to  PreventEpidemics.org, a new website

After experiencing series of disease epidemics including Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, Lassa fever, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, CSM, among others in recent times, Nigeria is not ready for the next epidemic, according to  PreventEpidemics.org, a new website that highlights gaps in epidemic preparedness and pinpoints specific actions civil society organisations and concerned citizens can take for better preparedness.

 

The website is the first to provide a singleReadyScore for every country based on their ability to find, stop and prevent epidemics, also provides advocacy tools to help make health protection a priority. The ReadyScore is essentially  the measure of a country’s preparedness based on existing data from the Joint External Evaluation, JEE, an external assessment developed by the World Health Organisation and partner organisations to help countries find and close gaps in epidemic preparedness.

 

ReadyScore uses JEE data to calculate a numerical score – from 0 to 100 – representing a country’s ability to prepare for and respond to an epidemic. According to the site, Nigeria’s ReadyScore is 39, i.e., ability to prepare for and respond to an epidemic. Countries with a ReadyScore above 80 are considered  better prepared for an epidemic, countries between 40 and 79 have work to do, and countries below 40 are not ready. These scores, it was gathered, can drive action at  country and global levels by motivating countries to go up a step in preparedness, overall and by specific preparedness area.

 

The website provides advocacy tools, including detailed global and country-level data, highlights of country’s preparedness strengths and gaps, and action plans to engage with decision- makers to improve epidemic preparedness. Vanguard gathered that of the 65 countries that have conducted a JEE and released results, only nine (14 per cent) scored over 80 in epidemic preparedness to address health threats. Fifty-six (86 per cent) scored lower than 80, which means they have considerable gaps to fill to ensure their people are safe from infectious disease, chemical and radiologic threats.

 

The ReadyScore recognises that no country will ever be completely safe from the threat of epidemics, however, strong and robust systems to find and stop threats can minimize preventable illness and death in the event of new or emerging infectious diseases. An additional 21 countries, out of a total of 194, have either requested or started a JEE. The rest are either using different metrics to evaluate their capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies and yet to publish results or are not engaged in assessing capacities for health emergencies. The ReadyScore consolidates 19 areas of epidemic preparedness assessed during a JEE. Within those areas, more than 50 factors are assessed such as whether a country has a national laboratory system to diagnose diseases, and the capacity of its public health workforce to find, stop and prevent epidemics.

 

The JEE rates each of the indicators on a scale of 1 – 5. One, is “no capacity” and is coded red. Two and three indicate the “need to build capacity” (limited or developed capacity) and are coded yellow. Four and five indicate “sustainable capacity” and are in the desired green band. The ReadyScore is the average score of the 19 area scores, placed on a scale of 0 to 100. Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and housed at Vital Strategies, which works in 60 countries with the vision of a world in which every person is protected by a strong public health system.

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