Public Health Experts Reel Out Ways To Mitigate Disease Outbreak In Nigeria

Mkpuma Enyinna, Abakaliki

In a bid to evaluate and improve health care delivery and services in Nigeria in a post-pandemic era, David Umahi Federal University of Health Services, Uburu, Ebonyi State has concluded her 4th International Public Health Conference with a call for improved teachings, research and services to mitigate the spread of diseases in Nigeria.
The Public Health International conference, which was held between  12th--14th Dec.2023, at DUFUHS witnessed participants from all parts of the world who registered for the 3-day event.

Speaking on the theme: “Public Health Teaching, Research and Services in Africa in a Post-Pandemic Era”, the Vice Chancellor of David Umahi Federal University of Health Sciences, Prof.Jesse Uneke while presenting his address, welcomed the participants to the 4th International Conference on Public Health, stating that the  University has engaged with the global best practices to ensure public health teaching, research and services in the institution. 
The vice chancellor who was represented by the Provost of the University, Prof.Esther Ajuruchukwu appreciated the participants for their commitment and timely response to the 4th International conference, saying that the institution has made concrete and excellent efforts to provide all the human and material resources needed to ensure the success of the conference.

Also, the Chief Medical Director of David Umahi Federal Teaching Hospital(DUFUTH), Prof. Agwu Uzoma in her address, said that the conference is timely as public health teaching, research, and service is so significant and relevant because of the role it plays in our contemporary society. She applauded the efforts of the vice chancellor in ensuring that the institution gives out the best in public health teaching, research, and services to the students and the general public.

One of the keynote speakers, Prof. Williams Brieger of the Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA while making his presentations on the topic, `Pandemics: Lessons for Public Health Teaching, research, and Service in Africa ‘ stated that based on assessment after the Ebola and subsequent covid –19  outbreaks in West Africa,  there were low levels of preparedness of government and public health institutions to mitigate and control these diseases. He explained that these epidemics exposed major weaknesses in the capacity of most  African countries to cope with outbreaks of diseases.
`In particular, there was not only poor logical capacity for testing and treatment but also low staff/training” William Brieger said.

He outlined major outbreaks between 2014–2023 in Nigeria including Ebola(2014), Meningitis, monkeypox, yellow fever(2017), Lassa fever, measles, monkeypox (2022), Polio Re-emergence(2016) lessa fever(2019), Cholera(2021), and Meningitis, Cholera, Diphtheria(2023).
Prof. Williams explained that our public health training, research, and service institutions are challenged while addressing the routine needs of the population because pandemics and outbreaks take these challenges to another level. 

Speaking on HIV–AIDS as one of the earliest recognized pandemics, Prof. Williams said HIV had a zoonotic origin, but later took on a life of its own, saying that scientific and public recognition of the problem was difficult in the easy days not because of lack of technology, but also due to cultural taboos. In his words:` While preventive measures were promoted, public acceptance was poor, and response to testing was deterred due to lack of effective instruments but being managed better now that key lessons about pandemic abound”. 
He also spoke on Regional Ebola Response and Collaboration, BBC Analysis for COVID-19 Response in Oct. 2020, amongst other lectures.

Other notable speakers include Siobhan Fitzpatrick from the World Health Organization, and Ms. Oyeronke Oyebanji from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom. 
Also participated in the conference is Dr. Uba Nwose of the School of Health and Medical Science, University of SouthernQueen’s Land, Toowoomba, Australia, Dr Daniel Umezurike from Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki amongst others.

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