By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, Jan. 22, 2021
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has lauded the diligent work of Nigeria’s health workers and experts across the country in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic amid its rising cases.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Friday, said the vice president went for a facility tour of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Reference Laboratory, at Gaduwa, Abuja.
The vice president said the country had expanded its public health response capabilities as it was making progress in the sector since the nation’s first COVID-19 case in 2020.
Osinbajo was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora and the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
“We have a critical situation on our hands currently with the increasing number of cases being recorded; but a lot of progress has been made since Nigeria’s first case was reported in Feb. 2020.
“We have activated nearly 120 laboratories nationwide; 70 of them public laboratories and have significantly ramped up our testing and case management capacity.
“We have expanded the footprint of our sovereign public health response capabilities especially at the subnational level and in areas where previously such capabilities did not exist.
“Not so long ago, test samples had to be flown out of the country for examination; this is no longer the case as we now have the capacity to process samples internally.”
Osinbajo said that such an achievement should not be taken for granted but consolidated on.
According to him, the facility is a testament to the strides that have been made during a short period.
The vice president commended Nigeria’s public and private healthcare specialists and workers in the line of duty for ensuring the safety, cure and prevention of majority of Nigerians from the COVID-19 virus under challenging circumstances.
“While we are not yet where we want to be as a nation, we are most certainly not where we were at the onset of the pandemic.
“Thousands of health professionals have been working tirelessly on Nigeria’s COVID-19 public health response.
“ From the people across sample collection sites and laboratories ensuring testing and our dedicated physicians, nurses and other health workers in treatment centres providing care to the sick, to our medical scientists that are conducting research on various aspects of this plague.
“ We also have State Public Health Teams working hard to ensure data reporting and analysis, contact tracing, risk communications and so much more.
“Within this period, you have all worked extremely hard to activate testing in all states of our country, you have increased our knowledge of this disease, grown our capacity to swiftly identify those infected by the plague and render aid to them.”
He said that when the record of Nigeria’s response to the unprecedented threat to public health would be written, the efforts of healthcare professionals would occupy a significant place with the thanks of a grateful nation
Osinbajo also spoke on the ground-breaking research of several Nigerians towards creating a cure for the COVID-19 virus.
He said that he was in briefing meetings where he listened to the landmark research of a team of Professors from Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
The vice president said that the professors were investigating the efficacy of some drugs in the therapeutic management of Covid-19 and are researching its prophylactic use.
“A few days later I was listening to Prof. Christian Happi and his team who have produced a ground-breaking COVID-19 rapid test, but more remarkably, are developing a Nigerian anti Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.
The vice president urged Nigerians to continue to comply with COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical measures.
Osinbajo also implored all Nigerians to comply with the advice of scientists and healthcare professionals and to continue to take every measure required to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
During the tour of the facility in Gaduwa, the vice president was taken round the laboratories and also interacted with the select group of the staff.
He paid tribute to the memory of the late NCDC staff, Uche Njoku, who died in the course of service.