Northern Nigerian Breaking News

ANALYSIS: Evaluating Tinubu’s impact on NCDC

By Abujah Racheal

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is Nigeria’s national public health institute, established in 2011 to lead preparedness, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.

President Bola Tinubu’s administration has brought significant changes to the centre, impacting the lives of ordinary Nigerians amid recent health challenges.

Dr Bola Lawal, the Incident Manager, National Diptheria Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), highlighted improvements at the height of the diphtheria outbreak in the country.

Lawal said increased funding and resources, including additional counterpart support from developmental partners, allowed the NCDC and partners to distribute more diphtheria antitoxins and other medical countermeasures that helped to save lives.

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He recounted the harrowing early days of the outbreak, saying “we were seeing children come in with severe respiratory issues, and the panic among parents was palpable.

“Increased funding and resources provided under the leadership of Tinubu’s administration through the coordinating minister of health and social welfare, Prof. Ali Pate was a game-changer.”

At the peak of the outbreak, Pate set up the National Diptheira Task Team which helped to improve coordination and resources among Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs) and partners.

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In rural Ondo State where Lassa fever cases surged, community health worker, Mr Samuel Adetayo, played a crucial role.

Adetayo highlighted the significant improvements in the ability to handle the outbreak, noting that “before, we struggled with supplies and had to rely on outdated equipment.

“But with the administration’s push for a One Health approach and increased budget allocations, primary healthcare centres received new protective gear and diagnostic tools.

“This enhanced the ability to treat patients and instill confidence in the community, as the people now trust us more and report symptoms promptly.”

Mrs Ruth Bala, a resident of Bwari Area Council in Abuja, said she experienced direct benefit of NCDC when her two-year-old daughter got immunised against diphtheria and cholera.

She said that the proactive health measures reduced her frequent trips to the hospital and the associated financial strain, allowing her to focus on her small business.

In his first year in office, Prof. Pate said Tinubu initiated significant changes at the NCDC, reflecting his administration’s healthcare goals.

Pate said that a key development was increasing funding for health security in the national budget and the appointment of Dr Olajide Idris as the new Director-General of the NCDC in February 2024.

The minister said “Idris, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Health, brings extensive experience in public health, including managing the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

“Under his leadership, the NCDC prioritised prevention, enhanced disease surveillance and response capabilities, bolstering the country’s readiness to tackle both endemic and emerging infectious diseases.”

One notable achievement of President Tinubu’s one year in office has been the effective response to the diphtheria outbreak, he added.

Over 15 million children were immunised, demonstrating proactive approach to preventing widespread health crises.

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The vaccination campaign was part of strategy to enhance the country’s immunisation coverage and prevent outbreaks before they escalate.

The administration has also focused on combating endemic diseases like Lassa fever, as NCDC distributes essential response commodities, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and antiviral drugs to states and treatment centres across Nigeria.

These efforts have been crucial in managing outbreaks and reducing mortality rates.

Also, the NCDC had been actively responding to increased laboratory testing and public health campaigns to mitigate spread of diseases, in spite of challenges such as late presentation of cases and poor health-seeking behaviour.

To bolster Nigeria’s outbreak response capabilities, the U.S. Government, through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), donated essential laboratory supplies and PPEs to enhance NCDC’s capacity to diagnose and manage outbreaks.

The equipment include biosafety cabinets and sample collection materials, which are critical for maintaining high-quality laboratory outputs and ensuring safety of healthcare workers.

In addition to these efforts, the NCDC worked on improving health infrastructure and capacity, including upgrade of diagnostic facilities and ensuring better-equipped health centres across the country.

These improvements aim to provide better healthcare services and enhance  overall health outcomes for Nigerians.

The administration’s commitment to healthcare is evident in these strategic initiatives to ensure that Nigeria is better prepared for future health challenges.

The One Health initiative emphasises the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.

Under President Tinubu’s leadership, the NCDC made significant strides in enhancing Nigeria’s health security, while the One Health approach represents a significant step toward a more integrated and proactive public health strategy.

Meanwhile, experts advised that the Tinubu administration should continue to focus on improving health infrastructure, disease surveillance, and emergency response capabilities.

They also said that the NCDC should focus more on providing real-time services and enhance overall public health outcomes.

They suggested that the administration’s commitment to healthcare in the next three years should be evident in these strategic initiatives to ensure that Nigeria is better prepared for future health challenges.


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