A study on severe infectious diseases was launched by the Joint West African Research Group (JWARG) on Wednesday, at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos. The study is the fruit of collaboration between the United States (US) Department of Defense Walter Reed Program and the Nigerian Ministry of Defence Health Implementation Program.
Speaking during the launch the director of medical services at the Ministry of Defence, Dr. Toyin Akinlade stated that this event comes primarily to promote force health protection, after staff had suffered the brunt of dangerous diseases like the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
It is in this light, she informed that the JWARG was born on June,26,2016 out of a bio-preparedness initiative to prevent the re-occurrence of dangerous epidemic diseases. She recounted that after West Africa suffered the brunt of the EVD, former Minister of defense, Lt Aliyu Gusau requested technical support from former United States Ambassador, His Excellency, James Entwistle for improved capacity to manage any future epidemic in the sub-region.
The area of emphasis included; the training of medical staff on the management and prevention of infectious diseases, establishment of a fixed bio-containment centre in Lagos, establishment of a diagnostic capacity for the armed forces in the bio-containment facility and provision of technical support for deploying robust response to infectious diseases.
This study is therefore aimed at identifying common pathogens in West Africa that could pose public health threat, Dr. Akindale stated. “The launch on this day would be followed by a three day bio-preparedness training to strengthen the capacity of participants not only in the area of research but also to be able to detect and respond appropriately and promptly to public health emergencies,” she further informed.
Buttressing the aforementioned point, the US Consule General, Mr. John Bray stated that it is important for Nigeria, US and the international community to be fore-warned about infectious diseases so that they can be fore-armed. Notifying that this bio-preparedness initiative would hold in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia, the US Consulate informed that the US has been supporting health initiatives in Nigeria for the past 50 years.
“The US government strongly believes that healthy people make for stronger, more prosperous and more stable nations,” he revealed.
Franca Sulem-Yong and Angela Iroh