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Ihekweazu Urges Attention to Health Sector Beyond COVID-19

The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has called for more attention to the health sector beyond COVID-19.

Ihekweazu made the call on Wednesday in Abuja when members of the House of Representative Committee on COVID-19 accompanied him on a tour of the agency’s reference laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja.

Ihekweazu told members of the committee that the nation needs to make health security an important national agenda.

“Honourable members, we really have to elevate health security on the agenda a little bit in our national discourse.

“We have to deal with COVID-19 in the short term but in the long term, we really need to elevate the issue of health security,” Ihekweazu said.

According to him, the National Laboratory set up in 2018 currently stores about 40,000 samples of COVID-19 – positive and negative.

“At the beginning of COVID-19 in Nigeria, there were only three laboratories testing for the virus.

“At present, there are 60 laboratories testing for the virus across the country,” he said.

The 18-man committee has the responsibility of ensuring that the operations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 are conducted in line with international best practice.

The committee is also to serve as a link between the task force and the National Assembly and, then, the Nigerian people to whom members of the House are answerable.

Speaking also during the tour, Chairman of the committee, Mr. Haruna Mshelia, assured the NCDC of proper funding for its network of laboratories.

“Most of the research laboratories in this country will now be properly funded, your laboratories will be further expanded.

“All other issues that will be thrown up during our discussion this afternoon, I assure you, we will meet with the speaker and ensure that the problems are looked into,” Mshelia noted.

The chairman also promised the committee’s commitment to strengthening Nigeria’s diagnostic capacity.

NAN

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