What are remarkable facts about Nigeria

Nigeria: Five Lessons in Coping with the Corona Crisis

The West African country has bravely withstood the spread so far

By Ifeanyi Nsofor | March 21, 2020

Abuja (IPS / afr). Nigeria, the most populous state in Africa with around 200 million inhabitants, has so far only recorded twelve infections with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In his commentary, the Nigerian doctor Ifeanyi Nsofor explains what Europe and the USA can learn from his home country.

The population of Nigeria is constantly informed about the current developments regarding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (Image: Shutterstock.com).

Nigeria reacted remarkably immediately after the coronavirus appeared in China at the turn of the year. The virus reached us on February 27th. However, only twelve cases have been diagnosed to date. And: There is still no death to complain about. (As of March 21, 2020, 9:00 am. For current figures, please see our statistics page "Facts & Figures: The Coronavirus in Africa".)

The fight against the coronavirus is led by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja. The government has learned its lessons from the Ebola crisis of 2014 and completely reorganized health care.

However, the NCDC is currently fighting on another front. Since the beginning of the year, the worst Lasso fever outbreak to date has been raging, which has already cost 161 people their lives. The threat of hemorrhagic fever is currently higher than that of COVID-19: In Nigeria, 22 percent of diagnosed cases currently die.

My country's successful defense against the coronavirus to date can be summarized in five lessons:

  1. States must use crisis-free times to establish systems to combat outbreaks. In Nigeria, the NCDC has been promoting the establishment of a total of 23 “Public Health Emergency Operations Centers” (PHEOCs) since 2017. The centers, which are distributed across the country, serve as hubs for communication and for the distribution of resources.

  2. Countries must handle their index cases transparently. Nigeria quickly recognized and reported its index case. The diagnosis of the sick Italian was immediately announced to the public on February 27th. Since then, all further details about the course of the outbreak and measures to minimize the risk have been published on the NCDC website.

  3. Nigeria expanded its diagnostic network in good time. Within a few weeks of the outbreak in China, four laboratories were set up to quickly identify possible cases of the disease. These laboratories are strategically located.

  4. It takes the political will to be well prepared for epidemics. The work of the NCDC was strengthened by the signing of a law by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2018. The institution has thus received the state mandate to coordinate all measures in the event of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies. Linked to this mandate was the guarantee that the NCDC would receive 2.5 percent of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund. The financial instrument was set up in 2015 to improve basic health services in the country.

  5. But perhaps the most important lesson: Nigeria is very careful about what happens outside of its own country. Infectious diseases do not respect borders. "The concept that every state tries to take action only within its own borders is a complete waste of time," says NCDC Director General Chikwe Ihekweazu. Global health security is only as strong as its weakest link. Action plans must be thought of internationally.

Of course, Nigeria also needs more resources in order to be better prepared for the next crisis. However, the NCDC has shown that it is possible to limit the effects of virus outbreaks.

So other countries don't need to reinvent the wheel to fight this coronavirus pandemic. Nigeria has managed to contain the SARS-CoV-2 infections for the time being. We are always ready to share the knowledge we have gained. (End)

Please note: The spread of the virus is also developing dynamically in Nigeria. Up-to-date data on the spread of the coronavirus can be found on our statistics page "Facts & Figures: The Coronavirus in Africa".

| Tags: Nigeria, Europe, USA, Health, COVID-19, Ifeanyi Nsofor