Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative (ERAI), a non-governmental Humanitarian and development organization has warned all levels of government in Nigeria of the consequences of treating emergency generally; and specifically, public health emergencies, as accountability free zone.
According to the press release signed by its Executive Director, Gbenro Olajuyigbe, the organization whose vision is a world where everyone takes informed and appropriate action to reduce vulnerability and prepare for emergencies condemned the nonchalant attitude of government and its agencies in responding to public health emergencies.
The perennial recurrence of outbreak of Lassa fever, cholera and others that can easily be eliminated through appropriate public health notification, intervention, research and laboratory investigation with appropriate resourcing is scandalous.
The organization whose priority is to support all processes that keep people safe, secure and resilient in a just society bemoan the threat of the Lassa fever virus which is widely spreading across the country.
Tens of deaths, including that of health officials have been recorded across more than ten states in the recent outbreak of Lassa fever. No nation leave her citizens prostrate and at mercy of disaster.
It emphasized the need to urgently activate appropriate response, work in collaboration with stakeholders in health sector; Ministries of Health and Public Health , government agencies, partners, organizations and communities to urgently curtail the rampaging scourge.
Olajuyigbe noted that Nigeria has almost never responded timely, rapidly and effectively to emergencies and yet to develop a clear niche for herself in emergencies.
He identified capacity, belief system, bureaucracy and non-commitment to risk reduction activities as part of the challenge. Lack of clear conceptualization of emergency work, poor skills in rapid assessments and poor coordination are issues for attention.
It is sad that not much has been heard from the poorly funded Institute of Virology and other Research Centers in respect of epidemic that has become yearly routine.
Emergency response feeds on speed and appropriateness of action, hence, the need to devote resources and expertise in addressing weak reception of information about impending disaster, slow decision making after disaster strikes and slow response even after decision-making.
Epidemic disaster like Lassa fever can best be addressed through information, effective communication, education and support for remedial action in the case of the already affected population.
This is more apt in the contexts of the outbreak of Coronavirus in China, an exceptionally high risk health emergency for Nigeria.
There is high inflow and outflow of travellers between Nigeria and China. Nigeria must as a necessity put in place adequate response measures.
Many problems can be solved if we apply our thoughts to the purpose of government which includes the welfare of the people. Responding to emergency with speed of time is not act of charity. It is an accountability issue. It is a duty. It is imperative!