By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Prof. John Idoko, Consultant Physician, Department of Internal Medicine, Jos University Teaching Hospital, has urged stakeholders to research toward developing vaccine for infectious diseases.
Idoko, former Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS(NACA) made the call in his keynote address at a 2nd International Public Heath Conference on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 3-day conference is organised by the Faculty of Health Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
Idoko said that there were 1,461 recognised infectious diseases and listed some as Human Immunodeficiency Virus/AIDS (HIV/AIDS), Ebola, Malaria, Lassa fever and Zirka.
“Getting prepared for these diseases entails strong public health fundamentals including infectious disease surveillance, laboratory detection and epidemiological investigation.
“We need high impact intervention and sound health policies.
“There is need to identify and validate high impact tools and develop new vaccines in order to protect against infection, preventable death and disability,’’ he said.
He said that 70 per cent of pathogens—virus and bacteria- originated from animals hence the need to take the animal world seriously.
The physician urged the academic community to develop and implement integrated curricula and foster inter-disciplinary collaboration.
On his part, Alhaji Mohammed Usman, Deputy Chairman, House Committee of Health Care Services said that Malaria deserved to be given serious attention.
According to him, many Nigerians are still dying of malaria and other infectious diseases.
Usman decried low budgetary allocation to health in Nigeria in comparison to what was obtainable in other African countries.
“It was agreed by stakeholders in health sector in Africa that at least 15 per cent of budgets be allocated to health.
“About eight African countries are implementing that and some are even allocating more but health received just 4.13 per cent in Nigeria’s 2016 budget.
“We are ready to review and amend laws that will improve the quality of health care services in Nigeria.
“In 2017 budget, the government has to implement the National Health Act,’’ he said.
Earlier, Dr Jane Agbu, the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, NOUN, said that the conference provided an opportunity for participants to network on public health research and community services.
NAN reports that no fewer than 20 participants from local and international institutions are participating in the conference.