African scientists have urged governments on the continent to prioritise research to prepare for outbreaks of infectious diseases and promote public health to reduce the current frightening infectious diseases like Ebola and monkeypox ravaging communities. The scientists, who spoke at the 6th International Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR tagged: One Health and Global Health Security: Need to be Proactive Through Health Research, said to improve global health security; African governments must adopt a multidisciplinary approach to combating these emerging infectious disease outbreaks.
Declaring the conference open, Director General, NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako said: “As drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between them or contaminated food, there is a need to break professional disciplinary and institutional boundaries, as well as work in a more integrated fashion to effectively detect, respond to and prevent outbreaks of zoonosis and good safety problems.
“To be able to improve global health security, there is a need to look at how this relationship exists, how can we prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans and where it has been transmitted, how do we treat and limit damages to humans through infections and this will require a multidisciplinary team, which will include veterinarian, clinician, basic scientist, environmentalist and the social sciences. All of them will have to come together to come up with a better way or approach to prevention.”
Speaking, the Conference Committee Chair, Dr. Agatha David, who noted that the World Health Organisation’s report showed that the burden of zoonotic diseases was high in West Africa said emerging and re-emerging diseases at the human-animal-ecosystem interface are occurring with increased frequency in Africa as evidenced by the sad and frightening’ recent outbreaks of Ebola virus disease, Lass fever and Monkeypox.
On his part, a Reader in Paediatric, Infectious Diseases, Imperial College, London, Dr. Aubrey Cunnington urged African governments to put infrastructure and funding in place to prepare for diseases when they emerge. “The key thing that will help to achieve this one health is having infrastructure and funding in place, that makes you prepare for when these diseases emerge, you need to be constantly on the lookout, you need to be doing research, which is surveying the environment, human health and animal health and looking for signals that these diseases are emerging.”