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We Must Prepare For Disease X, Minister Tells Nigeria

The slogan now at the World Health Organisation headquarters is that we must prepare for Lassa fever, Ebola, Zika, HIV and disease X. “Where X is that disease

Nigerians must be prepared for a disease outbreak anytime as global warming and ease of transportation have made it easy for an outbreak in any country to get to another fast.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, gave the advice in his remarks at the University of Lagos Pro-Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Annual Lecture Series, on Monday in Lagos. The lecture was entitled: “Responding to Nigeria’s Disease Outbreaks and Epidemics: Ebola, Zika and HIV.
It was delivered by a Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Pyllis Kanki, Harvard School of Public Health, USA.

Adewole said: “The slogan now at the World Health Organisation headquarters is that we must prepare for Lassa fever, Ebola, Zika, HIV and disease X. “Where X is that disease that we do not know of, yet we should expect. “In other words, there will be another outbreak, what we do not know is the nature of the outbreak and where it is going to start from.”

He praised the University of Lagos for the lecture which, he said, was timely. He said: “Talks on disease outbreak and epidemic will attract any minister of health who is serious; being here is another opportunity to steal ideas from the guest lecturer.” Adewole said that universities must deliver public good besides conferring degrees and conducting researches. He said: “To us in the health sector, this is public good.”

According to him, Nigeria has contained a number of disease outbreaks in recent years. He noted that the country contained Lassa fever outbreak in 2015 and resurgence of polio in 2016. He said: “We also had outbreaks of cholera, measles and Yellow fever; so, we must be prepared.

“What we have done is to invite WHO to conduct a joint external evaluation of our level of preparedness. “This will help us to do our internal reassessment and position ourselves to handle not only current outbreaks, but future ones.
“That assessment gave us a hint as to what should be done, as we also learnt lessons from the last Lassa fever outbreak where 75 per cent of cases came from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi. “What we plan to do is to reposition materials and train more people.”

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