As part of the world and the nation’s effort to combat and contain both the Zika Virus and Lassa Fever, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), on Monday kicked off 46 military health personnel training to contain the spread across its barracks.
The 7-day training Programme for medical personnel of the Armed forces which was declared open by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Amb. Danjuma Sheni, is part of the partnership between the ministry and the United States Department of Defence Walter Reed Programme-Nigeria, which came into being 11 years ago to curtail the spread of the HIV/AIDS disease in the Armed Forces.
The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director of Medical Services in the ministry, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, said the training was aimed at building the officers’ capacity on `Disease Outbreak Investigation and Management’.
Explaining that the nature of military assignments, which required regular movements both within and outside the country, gave rise to the military personnel being selected for the training. He also stressed that it was pertinent to select the military as a target group because of its increased vulnerability to sexually transmitted and other infectious diseases.
The permanent secretary said,
Under the present arrangement, 46 personnel will be trained in two batches this month.
The training will be focused more on increased critical knowledge and operational skills of Armed Forces personnel in outbreak management.
Strengthening laboratory capacity to conduct basic diagnostic investigations and establishing relationship with key stakeholders within the framework of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Given the successes the ministry has recorded under its Health Implementation Programme in the containment of Ebola and HIV spread, Akinlade expressed hopes that this programme would also be successfully implemented.
The ministry of defence, through its Health Implementation Programme, had recorded significant reduction in the prevalence of HIV in the Nigerian military and the conduct of Ebola vaccine study.
This initiative of the ministry is coming right at the peak of time as the World Health Organisation WHO on Monday declared the Zika Virus ravaging Latin America, a global public healthy emergency, requiring a united response.
The WHO alert puts mosquito-borne Zika virus in the same category of concern as Ebola, implying that research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.
This is the fourth time the WHO has declared a public health emergency. WHO declared two emergencies in 2014: the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and a resurgence of polio in Syria and other countries. The H1N1 swine flu pandemic also prompted an emergency in 2009.