If the Nigerian economy lost about 4 billion naira due to outbreaks in 2017 alone, how will we prevent additional losses as we continue to have more and more outbreaks?
On the 6th of August, we gathered with other representatives from the private sector, the health sector, and civil society to discuss the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria’s (PHN) solution to this big question: the Alliance for Epidemic Preparedness and Response (A4EPR).
In his opening address, the Honorable Minister of State for Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said that to reduce and arrest disease outbreaks collaboration of both the private and public sectors is required. He spoke about the impact of outbreaks on businesses. He outlined various consequences from reduced productivity due to absentee workers to the disruption of supply chains to changes in consumer behavior and consumption patterns and stated that these are reasons why the private sector should consider public health security a viable investment.
During the panel session, led by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr. Olajide Idris, representatives of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Tony Elumelu Foundation, MTN Foundation, Total Nigeria, Shell Foundation, and Facebook shared their insights into the contributions of their various private sector companies during the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014.
These companies demonstrated how the private sector can contribute to the health sector through financial investments, using innovative technology to disseminate accurate information, supporting with their managerial and strategic planning experience, and providing in-kind donations of various equipment and supplies.
At the end of the event, the new initiative – the Alliance for Epidemic Preparedness and Response (A4EPR) – was launched by the Honourable Minister for Health, Prof. Adewole to foster these multi-sectoral partnerships . Prof. Adewole commended the effort saying, “Crises happen when we are not ready. We must be ready all the time, all year round.”
A4EPR is a joint effort of NCDC and PHN to prevent, detect, respond to, and control outbreaks alongside the private sector and one of our favorite quotes from the event came from PHN’s CEO, Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq who said, “We need to be more deliberate. We need to prepare as if this is a war.”