Nigeria: Experts Proffer Solutions to Emerging, Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases

… Make case for timely reporting of infection, vaccination

Medical Experts have traced the causes of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases to man’s activities with wild animals even as they called for timely reporting of infection.

Speaking during the 2022 Health Writers Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, Annual Symposium with the theme: “Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious diseases: Implications and Solutions” a Public Health Physician, Dr Japhet Olugbogi identified listed some of the infectious diseases including HIV, SARS, Lyme disease, Escherichia coli O157:H7, hantavirus, dengue fever, West Nile virus Zika virus, Ebola, MERS, Chikungunya, Flu Viruses, H1N1 Influenza Virus (Swine Flu), Avian Influenza (Bird Flu), COVID-19 and Monkeypox.

He said the primary cause of emerging and reemerging diseases remains man’s contact with wild animals as well as known organisms that have spread to new areas or countries and previously unknown infectious organisms.

.Other causes, according to him, include; previously known organisms whose role in causing diseases has been missed and the re-emergence of infectious organisms whose incidence of disease had gone down in the past but has now re-surfaced (re-emerging contagious diseases).

Olugbogi defined Emerging Infectious Diseases as “infections that have recently appeared within a pop or those whose incidence or geographic location/range is increasing rapidly or threatens to increase shortly.

He said these diseases do not respect national boundaries and are a threat to health workers and the people at large.

Olugbogi also defined Re-emerging Infectious Diseases as “Diseases that surface after they have been controlled and may be caused by disruption of public health measures for diseases that were once under controlled, the appearance of new strains of known disease-causing organisms; human behaviour e.g antibiotics resistance which has allowed a return of diseases that once were treatable and controllable.”

Olugbogi said research has shown that there are 1400 known human pathogens, 60 per cent of which are transmitted to humans through animals and depend on an animal reservoir for survival.

An additional 5-10 per cent according to him, is environmentally transmitted, and the remainder is through human-to-human transmission the proportion of zoonotic infections among emerging infection diseases (EID) is even higher (73 per cent), indicating that the human-animal route is a big risk for occurrence

He said most of the established human pathogens started from animals, adding that emerging infectious disease events are dominated by zoonoses and the majority originate from wildlife.

Proffering solutions to the challenges of the emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, Olugbogi called for timely disease notification, strengthening of the healthcare system, enforcement of compulsory health insurance, the building of infrastructures, and improvement of health workers’ welfare and re-training of health workers and provision of adequate consumables.

He recommended timely vaccination, behavioural change, environmental protection, nutritional and lifestyle modification, and non-consumption of ill-prepared bushmeat among other measures to curb the menace.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, who is also the President, of the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, Dr. Jimmy Arigbabuwo commended HEWAN for the theme of the conference describing it as apt especially now that the world is faced with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

He said the sub-theme “Achieving Universal Health Coverage through Mandatory Health Insurance: Role of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)” was also in line with the objective of the present administration and what all Nigerians are yearning for.

According to him “I can assure you of one thing, it is not likely that this planet will do without emerging and re-emerging of new diseases, pandemics being viral or bacteria, fungal or even issues that will deal with immunity or parasite. They come in because of the existence of the human population – we deal with them, we play with them.

“The likes of the animals and plants are created for man’s existence, that COVID-19 has gone does not mean another one will not come so be it bacteria or virus or an animal we don’t know yet, something will happen!

“What is key is that we are even more troubled now by non-infectious diseases problems, non-contagious problems including hypertension, high blood pressure, cancers and name them, they even a threat to this region more than ever before; even the time they surface and the ages affected are not the usual we used to know.

“We now have people in their 20s or 30s suffering strokes; we have cancer diseases affecting the under-age as well as adult and elderly people.

These are quite common now and I want to commend HEWAN for choosing this theme to address the issue of infectious diseases today.”

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