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Use lessons from COVID-19 to prevent emerging diseases – Expert urges Nigerians

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A public health expert, Dr. Ifeoma Uduji, has urged Nigerians to use lessons learnt from COVID-19 to prevent and curb recurring and emerging diseases in the country.

Uduji, who is a specialist in Public Health Services and Policy, made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Monday.

She said that recurring and emerging diseases such as yellow fever, Lassa fever and monkeypox, among others, can be dealt with and prevented by applying the basic protocols of COVID-19.

The expert called for active and continuous disease surveillance system as well as improved public health emergency preparedness and response.

She noted that improved public health emergency preparedness and response could be achieved through identifying gaps in medical logistics, early warning strategies, rapid response strategies, coordination among health officers and agencies.

Uduji said: “The unprecedented nature of pandemics and epidemics is the main reason for strengthening public health preparedness and surveillance.

“For an effective public health preparedness and surveillance system, core elements like health alert network, fully equipped and functional laboratories, standards, and emergency architects must be put in place.”

According to her, the issues of personal, family and neighbourhood cleanliness and hygiene learnt during COVID-19 should be continued and internalized to contain recurring and emerging diseases as prevention is better than cure.

“The learnt habit of regular cleaning of oneself, homes and surroundings during COVID-19 should be fully adopted as a lifestyle to ward off recurring and emerging diseases threatening human health in the country.

“The regular washing of hands with soap or ash under running water for some seconds should be intensified, while time should be taken to ensure regular cleaning of surfaces at homes, schools, offices and other public places.

“Using alcohol-based sanitisers is ideal even as one touches one of two surfaces daily.

“Keeping one’s window and doors well netted and sleeping under insecticide treated nets as well as properly covering food containers at homes and avoid touching domestic animals as much as possible will help us greatly this time,” she said.

Uduji, a U.S.-trained health professional, is a seasoned public health professional interested in public health system strengthening, surveillance, epidemiology of infectious diseases and global health as well as maternal and child healthcare.

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