Epidemiologists urged to engage in more research

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole has called on public health practitioners to engage in more researches that would enhance the life of Nigerians.

He made the call at the 2ND Annual Scientific Conference on Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, in Abuja.

He said that strengthening the health system in the country would protect the citizens from disease outbreaks.

”For us to truly make progress from infectious diseases, we need an approach that requires more direct effort that focuses on inter-play between human health and animal health into one initiative,” he said.

Prof. Adewole also highlighted the huge contributions of field epidemiologists, particularly in combating diseases like the Ebola disease that was eradicated in weeks.

He challenged participants at the conference to come up with more workable solutions to public health issues confronting Africa.

Earlier, Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the conference is aimed at creating a platform for epidemiologist and public health physicians to share scientific works and ideas for a better public health sector.

He said that that the conference also aims to deliberate on pertinent public health issues in Nigeria and beyond.

The CEO noted that the theme of this year’s conference was borne out of the need to demonstrate utility of the One health approach beyond training.

The CEO mentioned some of the objectives of the conference as: provide residents and graduates of the programme a forum to share findings from various field based activities.

He also added that the conference has the potential of creating networking opportunities, partnership and training on scientific communication.

He also commended Nigerian field epidemiology graduates for their contributions to diseases control in Africa.

On his part, the chairman Local Organising Committee of the conference, Mr. Joshua Obasanya, said that the meeting would institutionalise the One health approach through collaboration with relevant stakeholders like the ministry of Agriculture.

One of the participants at the conference representing The African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Dr. Olivia Namusisi Kasange, from Uganda, said that graduates of the training programme has strengthened manpower in Africa and enhanced health systems on the continent.

She said that AFENET is a not-for-profit organisation which works closely with Ministries of Health in member countries to develop sustainable programmes and capacity to strengthen field epidemiology and ensure healthier lives for Africans.

She added that the number of students for the programme keeps increasing annually, which is good thing for Africa.

Another participant at the conference, Dr. Endie Waziri from AFINENT Nigeria, explains that the one health campaign is necessary as most diseases are transferred to humans by animals.

“ In the past few decades, over 65% of diseases that have infections in humans were actually of animal origin. That’s the essence of one health. So, we are looking at how can you bring in the key players in both human and animal health sector to work together so that we will be able to tackle those infections caused by animal pathogens. It’s bringing together all the agencies, all the relevant workforce that can bridge the gap between what we call emerging and re-emerging diseases that are of animal origin but are causing diseases in humans’ Dr. Waziri said.

The Charge du Affair at the US Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. David Young, said that Nigeria has a great line up of medical and graduates who help in combating diseases globally.

He urged the Nigerian government to continue to support other parts of Africa with expertise.

The theme of the 2ND Annual Scientific Conference on Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme is ‘Strengthening one Health Through Field Epidemiology Training’.