- The Federal Government and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a program to prepare for, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks.
- The initiative, ‘ Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (Surge)’, is designed to enhance readiness and coordination at all levels.
- The program was launched across all six geopolitical zones of the country to improve the capability of public health workers to respond quickly and effectively to all emergencies.
To better manage disease outbreaks, the Federal Government, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), has initiated a three-pronged strategy focused on preparation, detection, and response during health emergencies.
This initiative, known as ‘Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (Surge)’, was inaugurated in Damaturu, Yobe State. The Chief Consultant of Epidemiology at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Godwin Ntadom, stated that the objective of Surge is to enhance readiness and coordination across all levels.
Yobe, a state recovering from the Boko Haram insurgency, continues to face numerous human and natural disasters. In 2022 alone, floods resulted in 74 deaths, the submersion of 30,000 hectares of farmlands, and the displacement of 35,000 households from their homes throughout the state, despite warnings from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).
In response to the initiative’s launch, Yobe State’s Commissioner for Health, Lawan Gana, noted that despite various efforts, the state still struggles with a shortage of skilled health workers and limited logistics.
The Surge program, launched across the country’s six geopolitical zones, is projected to bolster the capacity of public health workers, enabling them to swiftly and timely respond to any health emergencies.
An Emergency Call to Action: Tackling Disease Outbreaks
The recent launch of the ‘Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (Surge)’ initiative by the Federal Government and the World Health Organization (WHO) signifies a crucial step towards safeguarding public health in Nigeria.
In the wake of natural and human-induced disasters such as floods and insurgency, particularly in areas like Yobe State, the need for robust, timely, and coordinated emergency health responses cannot be overstated.
The Surge initiative represents a much-needed three-pronged approach – preparation, detection, and response – that aims to mitigate the impacts of disease outbreaks and other health emergencies. Enhancing the capacity of public health workers to respond swiftly and effectively to such situations is paramount, and initiatives like Surge are an excellent starting point.
However, the initiative should not only focus on immediate responses to emergencies. The Federal Government and all stakeholders must also prioritise the prevention and early detection of potential outbreaks. This can be achieved through significant investments in public health infrastructure, including state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities, skilled manpower, and robust disease surveillance systems.
The journey to a resilient health system is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Surge initiative is an excellent stride in the right direction. It must, however, be sustained and backed by requisite resources and commitment from all government and stakeholders.
Did You Know?
- Nigeria has a history of outbreaks of diseases like Lassa, cholera, yellow fever, and meningitis.
- The country has six geopolitical zones: North East, North West, North Central, South-South, South East, and South West.
- Yobe, where the Surge initiative was launched, is in the North East zone of Nigeria and has faced significant challenges due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
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