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ECOWAS countries discuss disease preparedness, response in West African region

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By Joyce Remi- Babayeju

15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS have converged in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria to discuss disease preparedness, surveillance, and response in the West Africa Sub region.

Director General of the West Africa Health Organization, WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the Annual meeting of National Coordinating Institutions of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Members States.

Speaking with newsmen, Okolo said that the significance of the meeting was to bring together Directors of Disease Coordinating Institutes from the 15 countries to discuss epidemics, diseases, preparedness and response to health problems in the region.

He said, “We are bringing together all Coordinating directors of the 15 countries because in WAHO we are charged with promoting, championing and leading issues of health across the region.”

The region has 15 countries, which includes 8 Francophone countries and 5 Anglophone countries and 2 Countries that spoke Portuguese languages to network for preparedness of endemics like Ebola, Lassa Fever, and Yellow fever, adding that for Yellow fever which is a strong disease working together in a network is important and that is why from time to time people come together for this purpose, he explained.

He said, “We want to ensure that within each country their own network including their emergency operating centre for instance where there is the case of Lassa Fever in one part of a country, they can phone in so we can be sure that such centre is functioning well, because it is good to share such ideas.”

“Sometimes some countries do not have the regional specialist functioning laboratories, like in Nigeria with two Specialists Laboratories, but sometimes we may find some viruses that we may need to send out in order to know the type and at the same time to know whether it is the type we have before.”

Director, Public Health Department of WAHO Carlos Britto explained that the ECOWAS Countries have converged to discuss implementation of global practices on surveillance and disease control in the region.

Britto said, “We want to build common space in our region, we need to be safe from epidemics and to do this it is necessary to share information with each other when we have a problem of epidemic.”

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