How Nigeria must prepare for next pandemic – Reps

The House of Representatives has stated that Nigeria must work towards being self-sufficient in health care and related services to be prepared for the next pandemic after COVID-19.

According to the House, the country must not only prioritise self-sufficiency in drugs, health commodities and vaccine production, but also aim at becoming the main supplier of these in the West African sub-region.

The House stated this at the plenary on Tuesday following the consideration and adoption of the report by its Ad Hoc Committee on COVID–19.

Adopting the report, the House resolved to convert the panel and rename it the Standing Committee on Epidemic and Pandemics, which will oversee relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

In the report, the committee recommended that, “The government should treat health as business, as obtained in agriculture, and the political will should be liberal towards health research institutes.

“The country to prioritise self-sufficiency in drugs, health commodities and vaccine production, in addition aim to be the main supplier of these in the West African sub-region.

“All molecular laboratories, intensive care centres, isolation wards and oxygen plants established across the country will be maintained and updated regularly so that the country will be ready for any eventuality.

“Public health emergency operation centres should be established at the federal and state levels and incident management systems be deployed to man these centres with personnel from health, environment, water resources, information, education, aviation/transportation and agric ministries. This will ensure the country will be in a state of readiness at all times for epidemics or pandemics.”

The PUNCH had reported that Chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19, Haruna Mshelia, laid the report last Thursday, over three years after the panel was set up for the task.

While the committee was constituted on April 28, 2020, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had on March 19, 2020, inaugurated the committee, with a mandate to coordinate the House’ activities on the disease and oversight the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

Gbajabiamila, while inaugurating the House committee, had said the panel was set up as part of the resolve by the parliament to constantly work for the best interests of the Nigerians.

The Speaker had said, “The 18-man committee we have come to inaugurate reflects the intention of the House of Representative to engage the executive arm of government in a partnership that serves the best interests of the Nigerian people, as we join hands to confront and conquer the most severe challenge of our lives.”

Gbajabiamila had directed the committee to ensure that the operations of the PTF are conducted to meet international best practices.

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