On the 25th of September 2020, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire led the official handover ceremony of the Infectious Disease Care Centre built and equipped by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to the management of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada.
According to the NCDC’s Statement “this project was born out of the need for a treatment centre for serious infectious diseases in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) following the 2018 Lassa fever outbreak.”
As Nigeria’s Public Health Institute, NCDC has the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. This involves supporting states and building their capacity to respond to outbreaks. With directives from the Honourable Minister of Health, NCDC conducted a joint onsite assessment with relevant stakeholders in the FCT and it was agreed that UATH, Gwagwalada was strategically placed and suitable for the treatment centre.
In addition to managing viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Lassa fever, this new, fully equipped 40-bed Infectious Disease Care Centre is designated for the management of cases of other infectious diseases including COVID-19 in the FCT. The treatment centre is also has a molecular laboratory for the prompt diagnosis of diseases. This project forms part of ongoing efforts by the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC to enhance capacity to manage cases of infectious diseases across the country towards strengthening health security.
As of the 24th of September 2020, a total of 5,615 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the FCT with a cumulative of 57,849 confirmed cases reported from all states in the country. At the official handover ceremony in Abuja, Professor Bisala Ekele, the Chief Medical Director of UATH reaffirmed the commitment of the hospital management to ensuring optimal utilisation of the treatment centre for the management of infectious diseases in the FCT including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCDC has supported the FCT Administration to mitigate the impact of the pandemic through training of health care workers on infection prevention and control (IPC), provision of medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), deployment of rapid response teams etc. NCDC has deployed and maintained a team of epidemiologists supporting the FCT Health Authorities in response to the pandemic.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director General of the NCDC, in his remarks reinforced the need for multi-sectoral collaboration and the need to build our health system in peace times to protect the health of Nigerians. “We have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic that big outbreaks can happen anytime, therefore, we must continue to invest in building a strong healthcare system even in the absence of a pandemic. NCDC remains committed to supporting all states and the FCT to build their capacity to prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria”.
Handing over the newly built treatment centre to UATH, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Honourable Minister of Health, commended the efforts of the NCDC and the management of UATH and further reiterated the federal government’s commitment to health security in Nigeria.