“Climate Change is contributing to Infectious Diseases in Africa.” – Prof Akin Abayomi.

Written by on August 8, 2019

The 5th African Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity organized by Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium is underway at the Sheraton Hotels in Abuja, Nigeria. The conference themed “Climate Change and Conflict: Implications for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity in Africa” brings together world’s experts to identify regional and international opportunities for collaboration in responding to Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID).

Prof Chikwe Ihekweazu, DG, NCDC; Bello Scholastica, Representing Rufus Ebegba, DG/CEO NBMA; Mr John Asein Director Nigeria Copyright Commission; Keynote Speaker, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Doctor of Infectious Disease; Prof Akin Abayomi, Principal Investigator – GET Consortium, among others.

Opening the 3-day event, Prof Akin Abayomi, a Professor of Medicine and Health Science and the Principal Investigator for the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium revealed the connection between Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID). According to Professor Abayomi, “The poor management of waste and unchecked use of chemicals has contributed to the rise of infectious diseases. Whatever we do on the surface of the earth is reflected in the water table that ends up carrying pathogens and heavy metals that are harmful to the body.

“The pressure on water is enormous, when we look at the drying up of the Lake Chad, a source of livelihood for 350 million people in 4 countries – Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, it has increased tension in the region. Wherever you have conflicts and insecurity there is always the opportunity for biosecurity threats.”

Making reference to why Ebola spread rapidly in 3 countries; Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Prof Abayomi highlighted the reasons to include: Lack of human resources, the economic and financial resources to cope, the inaccessibility of remote location where the disease was on the rise, the inexperience of staff to handle the strange disease and the lack of specialized infrastructure for dangerous pathogens.

Prior to this, the African Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity held in Dakar, Accra, Lagos and Freetown in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. The objective of the 5th edition of the conference is to discuss and debate the impact of the changing climate on Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) and Biosecurity in Africa, as well as, to discuss the rising insecurity and the influence of non-state actors on biosecurity in Africa.

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