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Osinbajo commends health workers, NCDC

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Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (right); Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora (middle); and Director General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, during a visit by Osinbajo to NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has commended efforts by public health workers and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) towards the containment of COVID-19 in the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, and the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, received Osinbajo during a visit to NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, the apex laboratory, in Abuja.

Directors as well as other members of NCDC staff and partners were also present at the visit.

The visit of the Vice President was an opportunity for him to appreciate the efforts of NCDC staff, State Public Health Teams and other public health workers who have been working tirelessly in response to the pandemic for about a year.

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During his visit, Osinbajo recognised and praised the efforts of NCDC staff and other public health workers, which he described as “heroic”. The Vice President interacted with the laboratory staff while on tour of the facility and observed operations at the molecular laboratory, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) mega-laboratory, its biorepository for the storage of samples and other areas of the facility. He reiterated the commitment of the President Muhammed Buhari administration to prioritise and strengthen health security.

Ehanire, while welcoming the Vice President, also commended NCDC’s critical role in the prevention, detection and response to disease outbreaks. “We are very proud of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, which is our youngest agency at the Federal Ministry of Health. In the last four years, the agency has grown significantly in its mandate and delivery. The achievements of NCDC in Nigeria’s public health response have been as a result of the resilience, dedication and commitment of its leadership and staff. Thank you, Your Excellency, for honouring their hardwork with your visit today.”

Ihekweazu expressed his gratitude to the Vice President for his visit. He shared the agency’s journey with establishing the NRL, including the COVID-19 response and challenges. “We remain grateful to the executive arm of the government for the strong political commitment to strengthen health security in the country.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for stable, substantial and sustainable funding for health security. We were able to activate the NRL and three other laboratories for COVID-19 diagnosis in January 2020, because we had been preparing for the next pandemic for four years. Nigeria must invest in health security for us to be better prepared for the next pandemic.”

Since the confirmation of Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case in February 2020, NCDC, supported by its partners, has been leading Nigeria’s committed public health response to the pandemic. This includes establishing and scaling up capacity for COVID-19 testing, surveillance activities, risk communications, as well as providing technical support to states and several other activities.

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