Exactly one year ago, on the 27th of February 2020, Nigeria detected her first case of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This was the first reported case in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With over 150,000 cases reported since then, Nigeria’s response has been led by science and driven by the power of coordination, collaboration and solidarity across federal and state governments, partners, private sector and citizens.
Prior to the confirmation of the first case in Nigeria, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with support from its partners, began preparedness activities. The NCDC began working with states and hospitals to map out and establish isolation and treatment centres for managing COVID-19 cases.
In addition to this, NCDC began training health workers across all states on case management, infection prevention control (IPC), surveillance, risk communication and other areas of epidemic preparedness and response. The agency also began to preposition medical supplies such as personal protective equipment to all states.
Importantly, NCDC developed preparedness guidelines and plansthat incorporated an all inclusive ‘One Health’ approach. In the last one year, NCDC has been working under the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19) chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr.
Boss Mustapha. This has enabled a multi-sectoral response to the pandemic, which has affected multiple facets of Nigeria’s economy.
The NCDC has led Nigeria’s public health response to the pandemic. This includes
establishing and scaling up capacity for COVID-19 testing, surveillance activities,
developing public health guidelines, as well as providing technical support to states. The
pandemic also provided the opportunity to rapidly scale up Nigeria’s public health
infrastructure. One of these is with the establishment of more than 70 public health
laboratories across the country; with at least one public health laboratory for COVID-19
testing in each state.
To mark one year since the first case was reported in Nigeria, the NCDC Director General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu emphasised the need for continued solidarity and adherence to public health and social measures in the country:
“In 2020, our country truly united in solidarity against the virus. The impact
of this has been obvious from small personal gestures such as sharing
foodstuff, to collaboration on research and innovation – to regional and pan-African collaboration. Despite the best efforts of government, it will take time to vaccinate everyone against COVID-19. We must keep adhering to the public health and social measures that keep each and all of us safe. This means physical distancing, wearing face masks, practicing hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding crowded indoor places.”
Ihekweazu added that the recent report of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo is a reminder that outbreaks will continue to emerge. This emphasises the need for continued investment in health security at national and state level.
We are grateful to health workers across the country including State Public Health Teams, for their hard work, commitment and dedication in the fight against COVID-19. We also thank our partners for their support. Finally, we thank the Federal and State Government for their leadership and investment in health security.
‘Unfortunately, during this pandemic, many have lost their loved ones and means of
livelihood. The economy has equally been affected. However, we must remember our
resilience and strength as a country. We cannot afford to give up now and must continue to Take Responsibility – whether as individuals, organisations, or government.
“As our sister agency, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)
prepares to lead the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, NCDC will work in solidarity with them to ensure a successful campaign.
“As the country’s public health institute, our focus remains to contribute to stronger health systems, to serve Nigerians into the future, he said.