Stakeholders urge FG to increase epidemic funding

Health stakeholders on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to increase funding for epidemic preparedness to guard against being taken unawares by any outbreak in future.

They made the call during a virtual training organised for journalists and other stakeholders by Nigeria Health Watch (NHW), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

The training, which attracted 110 participants from across the country, was aimed at training participants on reporting the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and related issues.

Speaking during the training, Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, a Consultant Paediatrician, explained that allocation for epidemic preparedness at the States and Federal Government levels had been grossly inadequate over the years.

Dr Shinkafi-Bagudu, who is also the Wife of the Kebbi State governor and an Advocate for Women’s Health, said the country was taken unaware by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

She attributed the increasing confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country to inadequate allocation for epidemic preparedness in the nation’s budget despite the weak health system.

The first lady however commended the government, health personnel and other stakeholders for their commitment towards containing the virus.

She also commended NGOs for organising training for journalists and other stakeholders, adding that it will help in curtailing the spread of the virus.

Similarly, Dr Zouera Youssoufou, the Managing Director, Aliko Dangote Foundation, said the private sector would continue to support the government where necessary in its efforts to contain epidemic.

“All hands must be on deck because the budgetary allocation from the government alone will not be sufficient to tackle outbreaks.

“Also, I urge the government to open up the economy gradually and safely to enable the people return to work as the virus has come to stay just like HIV/AIDS,” Youssoufou said.

The managing director said that the government should only ensure adherence to safety measures in all business premises, organisations and offices against the virus.

Speaking on the training, Mr Ifeanyi Nsofor of Nigeria Health Watch, said it was done virtually in a bid to further contain the spread of the pandemic.

He explained that the training was aimed at supporting media professionals to disseminate the correct information to the public in order to dispel the increasing misinformation being peddled by non-professionals about the virus.

According to Nsofor, the training has exposed the participants to where and how to get information on the COVID-19 and to properly disseminate same to members of the public.

The training featured paper presentations by resource persons on different topics as well as a question and answer session.

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