By Abujah Racheal
Dr Solomon Chollom, a virologist and medical laboratory scientist with the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom has decried the fire brigade approach usually adopted by Nigeria when diseases break out.
Chollom, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja on Thursday, said that the N620 million recently released by the Federal Government to boost preparedness against Coranavirus (COVID19), was “impulsive and not a strategy”.
“A strategic approach would have been for the country to rethink long term intervention strategies.
“One thing that has characterised the response of Nigeria to recent epidemics is this `impulsive action rather than strategy’.
“Nigeria must begin to build institutions such as the human vaccine production laboratory. If that laboratory is up and running, we will not be dolling out monies to individuals to develop a single vaccine.
“We must talk of a centre that has capacity to develop vaccines for all possible disease agents for the benefit of Nigerians.
“A recent media publication quoted a minister as promising N36 million reward to any Nigerian scientist that is able to come up with a vaccine against COVID-19.
“Some Nigerians wonder how that is going to be possible since Nigeria has not known the virus.
“The virus is needed for vaccine development, and the country cannot boast of human vaccine production laboratories.
“Another report claimed that money has been approved by government for preventive efforts against COVID-9.
“The report claimed that N71 million was released to Port Health Services Department in January to raise a preventive barrier around our ports, while a further N315 million was released to the NCDC to escalate action against the epidemic.
“The country has also been making efforts to track foreigners who entered into the country from COVID-19 high index countries.
“How did they pass through our airports?
“First, it was an Italian and his possible contacts cutting across Ogun and Lagos states. This was followed by a search for three Chinese who flew into the country and headed for Wase Local Government Area in Plateau, for Tin mining.
“This is in spite of monies already released for the sole purpose of keeping our country ports safe from the virus. So, we need more of strategic planning not impulsive actions,” he explained.
Chollom, however, said that the establishment of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC), was a commendable strategic move which had remained central in coordinating actions around epidemics.
“We need such institutions and many more to stay alive and alert.
“There is a sincere need to strengthen and expand the activities of NCDC to ensure our air, land and see ports are adequately surveyed to track down immigrants that may import international epidemics into the country.
“Some people have observed that the NCDC in its current operation is elitist in framework, having massive presence on twitter and television, but far from the common man or rural dwellers who lack access to these platforms,” he said.
The Virologist advised the NCDC to collaborate with the Ministry of Information and National Orientation Agency to pass across health information in indigenous languages to people at the grassroots.(NAN)