The Federal Government has said that the COVID-19 pandemic and rapid population growth now constitute threats to national security.
This was as it added that the novel coronavirus and other infectious diseases plaguing the country had exposed the fragility of the nation’s health system.
These positions were made yesterday in Abuja, by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, as well as the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, at the 2020 Health Security Week organised by the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS).
The week, with the theme: “Global Health Security Module”, was put together for participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC) 13, drawn from 18 agencies, including the Armed Forces and intelligence institutions. In his lecture entitled, “COVID-19: A Threat to Global Health Security”, the NCDC DG maintained that infectious diseases remained potential threat to global security.
While declaring that the deadly disease “is an enemy we cannot see”, Ihekweazu regretted that serious attention was not paid to it, when it emerged a few months ago.
He argued that lack of access to healthcare by the poor and vulnerable, would have a negative effect on security. Nonetheless, he disclosed that efforts were on to ensure that every state of the federation had a molecular laboratory, to increase the level of diagnosis.
Ihekweazu said: “One challenge that has really come to the fore, is how we have organised our health system.
The second challenge is the population of our country. As long as our population continues to grow, so will there be increase in the spread of infectious diseases.” He also identified poor budgetary allocations to the health sector, as another challenge that must be tackled head-on, for optimal results.
The NCDC DG, who stated that stigmatization was preventing people from presenting themselves for testing, contended that infectious diseases affect health, security and the economy.
In his intervention, the minister reiterated the fact that the country was not prepared for the pandemic, which has continued to ravage the world. “Public health is a national security issue; all health systems were threatened.
The peculiarities of COVID-19 caught all countries off-guard. Being a novel virus, the answer to the pandemic can come from anywhere,” Ehanire assured.
He restated the commitment of the ministry to strengthen collaboration with security and other relevant agencies, to contain the disease.