By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Thursday, in Abuja, revealed that the agency had at different times raised the alarm that diseases of the coronavirus nature could occur anytime; hence, there was need for preparation.
The Director-General spoke with journalists after defending the 2021 budget of his agency, noting that when they were raising the alarm, nobody took them seriously.
He, however, acknowledged the National Assembly for enacting laws that set them up as a full-fledged agency of government, a development that made them have capacity to deal with the pandemic and any probable virus related issues in future.
He stressed that the harmonious working relationship with the lawmakers has made NCDC tackle those issues within its statutory powers, adding that it was the Committee that worked on legal instruments of NCDC that made it to exist statutorily. He explained: “Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been having working relationships with the Senate Committee on Healthcare.
“I recall that it was this Committee that pushed the bill that eventually became an Act establishing us and previously we have been telling Nigerians the need to prepare for situations like we find ourselves since March, 2020. At that time, nobody really wanted to listen to us.”
He called on the Federal Government to fund the agency adequately in order to proactively respond to eventualities, which according to him, prevention was better than cure.
“Health security is not about when there is a problem, but the preparedness before it happens which must be stable, sustainable and substantial; that is the way we can protect ourselves in the future.
Responding to questions on the budget, Dr. Ihekweazu said: “This year’s budget, everybody understands that the country is passing through a very challenging period. We all have to be moderate in our expectations in terms of budgetary circle, more than ever before, Nigerians have come to understand why it’s important to invest in preparedness.
“The entire economy of Nigeria came to a standstill because of a single infectious disease and to prevent that from happening again in the future is to invest in the resources; in the human being; invest in equipment in our labs, EOCs, so that we can get on with our lives.