In a bid to ensure that African countries brace up to the challenges posed by the increase in emerging infectious diseases and biosecurity threats, especially against the backdrop of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the Lagos State Government, in partnership with a non-governmental organisation, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET), is set to hold the Sixth Annual African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity.
The conference themed: “Strengthening Africa’s Resilience in Tackling Emerging Biosecurity Threats: Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic” is scheduled to hold at the Civic Centre, Lagos between Wednesday, 25th and Friday, 27th November, 2020.
Speaking on the rationale for the Conference, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, explained that the need to continually emphasise the key importance of the African response in combating Emerging Infectious Diseases, advocating various treatment strategies and preparedness against future biosecurity threats informed the Conference.
He added that responsive and responsible governments are expected to key into intellectual gatherings and conferences that will set agenda and discourse for solutions to myriads of health challenges confronting the human race.
“In Lagos State, we recognise the importance of strategic conferences like this to guide our health policies, plans and programmes in order to protect our citizens and improve their health status. This was the reason why Lagos State hosted the second African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity in 2016 after the Ebola saga and the same reason we are hosting the sixth edition now even as we combat the COVID-19 Pandemic”, the Commissioner said.
He noted that the leading role played by Lagos in the containment of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria, coupled with proactive steps taken by the State against the raging COVID-19 infectious disease, makes it the top choice for hosting the conference which is one of the biggest biosecurity conferences in Africa.
Abayomi noted that arrangements and modalities for the conference are being perfected, in line with the theme, for a successful three-day event that will attract over 400 global experts in various fields from the African Continent and other countries of the World.
According to him, “This conference is being organised in partnership with GET Consortium to consolidate the gains of the first to fifth editions, review the status of implementation of the resolutions, chart the way forward for prevention and control of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases and bring the issue of Bio-security to the front burner”.
“It is also intended to help develop African continent’s own strategic intervention and response mechanisms to increasing outbreak of Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) and biological terrorism threats and help develop home-grown responses that will align with the evolving Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the “One Health” paradigms envisioned by World Health Organisation (WHO), International Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO)”, Abayomi added.
He opined that resolutions at the Conference will help chart a positive course for strategic response against Biosecurity threats in Africa and by extension the world, adding that the conference will afford Lagos the opportunity to review its strategic response against emerging infectious diseases.
Speaking in the same vein, the Chief Operating Officer of GET Consortium, Dr. Ayodotun Bobadoye explained that participants at the conference, which will hold both virtually and physically, will include policy makers, scientists, researchers, healthcare professionals, experts in infectious disease management, professionals from one health fields, development partners, community and opinion leaders, amongst others.
He averred that thematic areas of the conference will cover issues such as Emerging Infectious Diseases as an accelerating phenomenon; Biosecurity and Bio-threat Reduction in Africa; Bio-banking Infrastructure; the need for Vaccine Strategy for Emerging Infectious Diseases in Africa; Climate Change and Biosecurity threat as well as the Cultural Anthropological, Social and Economic impact of Emerging Infectious Diseases (CASE) among others.
“As Africans, we need to discuss our response strategies and preparedness for any disease outbreak, learning from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating lessons of the recent Ebola outbreak in West and Central Africa”, he said
Bobadoye disclosed that citizens who are interested in participating in the conference should register to participate.