Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has extolled the swift response and sacrifice of Nigerian health workers to the COVID-19 pandemic, declaring that their work has literally meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of Nigerians.
Osinbajo was speaking on Friday when visited the Reference Laboratory of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, in the Gudu Area of Abuja.
Osinbajo expressed his delight at the commitment of the public health workforce and the outstanding work that they have been doing since January 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was reported globally.
According to him, the COVID-19 is not only the most severe pandemic the world has seen in modern times, but it is also the most severe pandemic response for the NCDC as Nigeria’s premier public health emergency response.
Thousands of health professionals have been working tirelessly on Nigeria’s COVID-19 public health response, from the people across sample collection sites and laboratories ensuring testing, dedicated physicians, nurses and other health workers in treatment centres, providing care for the sick and also to our medical scientist that are conducting research on various aspects of this plague.
“We also have state public health teams working hard to ensure data reporting and analysis, contact tracing, risk communication and so much more.
“Within this period you have worked extremely hard to activate testing in all parts of the country. You have increased our knowledge of this disease.
“You have grown our capacity to swiftly identify those infected by the plague and render aid to them. I know that you work you do can often seem thankless and the long hours you put is unnoticed and sometimes appear unappreciated.”
Vice President Osinbajo described the work health professionals have been doing for the past 10 months as the sort that builds nations and saves lives.
“And it is fair to say that the staff of the NCDC and all of those who are engaged in Nigeria’s covid-19 public health response represent public service at its very best in Nigeria and example of the type of the public sector that we want to see in Nigeria,” he stated.
Osinbajo said that the NCDC facility is a testament of the strides Nigeria has made during such a short period that the pandemic was reported in the country, explaining that while the country has not attained its desired goal in its healthcare delivery, it has gone beyond the state it was at the onset of the pandemic.
“The excellent work I witnessed today at the NCDC Reference Laboratory is one of the best examples of how this pandemic has produced at least one silver lining in showcasing of the remarkable skills and talents of our public health professionals here and the NCDC and across the health sector.
“No one could have imagined how well our public health system will respond to a pandemic that has left better resourced public health systems completely bewildered. “
“Ultimately, our aim is to emerge from this pandemic with our nation’s health capacity strengthened and the overall resilience of our health care system enhanced.
“We believe that this is very possible because of your sacrifice, your commitment and your dedication to duty we can actually make this happen.
“Every achievement and capability we attain as a country in tackling this plague from this point onwards will be part of your legacy.”
In his remarks, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the last year has been the most defining for the health sector in Nigeria.
He said that Nigeria has made a lot of progress in its response to the pandemic with the activation of nearly 112 public and private laboratories nationwide and has significantly ramped up testing capacity and case management.
He said that the activation of the laboratories demanded much work from the staff who had to travel to different parts of the country.
Ihekweazu said that the NCDC carried out more than 1.2million tests in Nigeria in the last one year, 200, 000 thousand of which was done at the facility visited by the vice president.
Earlier, Prof. Osinbajo took a facility tour of the reference laboratory, accompanied by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora Ihekweazu and other staff of the NCDC.