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COVID-19: How we saw it coming – DG

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The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has revealed that the agency saw virus related challenges coming which they raised the alarm, but no body listened.

He gave the revelation on Thursday in Abuja in an interview with Journalists after his budget defence with the Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare, adding that he had at different fora raised the alarm that diseases of the coronavirus nature could occur anytime, hence, there was need for preparation which unfortunately, his voice was not heard.

He commended the upper and lower legislative Chambers for proactively enacted laws that set up Nigeria Center for Disease Control, which according to him, made them to have what it takes to tackle the pandemic.

The Director General added that the harmonious working relationship with the lawmakers has made NCDC tackle that are within its statutory powers, adding that it was the Committee that worked on legal instruments of NCDC that made it to exist statutorily.

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He explained: “Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been having working relationship with the Senate Committee on Healthcare.

“I recall that it was this Committee that pushed the bill that eventually became an Act establishing us and previously we have been telling Nigerians on need to prepare for situations like we find ourselves since March, 2020.

“At that time, nobody really want to listen to us, but we are where we and the Committee really supported us by appropriated funds and releases . The Committee supported releases in our emergency mode in order to respond to this pandemic, what we are now asking is sustained financing for health security.

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He called on the Federal Government to fund the agency adequately in order to proactively respond to eventualities, which according to him, prevention was better than cure.

“Health security is not about when there is a problem, but the preparedness before it happens which must stable, sustainable and substantial; that is the way we can protect ourselves in the future.

Responding to questions on the budget, Dr. Ihekweazu sai: “This year’s budget, everybody understand that the country is passing through a very challenging period. We all have to be moderate in our expectations in terms of budgetary circle, more than ever before, Nigerians have come to understand why its important to invest in preparedness.

The entire economy of Nigeria came to standstill because of a single infectious disease and to prevent that from happening again in the future is to invest in the resources; in the human being; invest in equipment in our labs, EOCs, so that we can get on with our lives.

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“We are not agency that stopped people from living, we.are agency that enable people live their normal lives.”

Earlier at the budget hearing, Senate Commission on Healthcare, Senator Chukwuka Utazi challenged Nigerian Scientists to proffer solution is the pandemic.

He said, it’s a phenomenal absurdity to wait until drugs have to come from other countries, adding that it was not about parading certificates, but inventions.

Utazi emphasised that there were too much of certificates and claims of being experts, particularly Nigerian Scientists, urging them to prove their mettle by inventing coronavirus drugs which would go down the memory lane.

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