Pandemic: Expert urges Nigeria to collaborate with African countries

The founder of TEXEM firms in UK, Dr Alim Abubakre on Thursday urged multi-sector organisations in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries to collaborate in enhancing their capabilities towards present and future responses to national pandemics.

The British-Nigerian expert made this known in Abuja while speaking to journalists on a virtual interview.

While referring to relevant authorities, Dr. Abubakre, an academic at Coventry University, noted that such collaborations were highly effective in achieving health outcomes.

However, he asserted that collaborations would likely fail to achieve their goals when there were leadership challenges with minimal resources, which was the scenario in many African countries.

“Using available resources most efficiently and equitably is an essential consideration for countries seeking to meet the enormous financial requirements to respond to the coronavirus crisis,” he said.

He said that, unfortunately, multiple studies on the obstacles to effective collaboration had focused on environments of developed countries like the United States and Sweden.

According to Abubakre, African leaders and policymakers in the health sector should realise that “developed – country contexts are quite different from developing ones, and they have been relatively under -researched by academic scholars”.

However, recent Coronavirus pandemic has aptly demonstrated the intricate interconnectedness and interdependence of human beings worldwide.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a reminder of the shared vulnerability of people.

“It should also remind us of the need for countries to pursue a multi-sectoral collaboration for the planning and coordination of an effective response to pandemics,” Abubakre said.

He also noted that one trend in the collaborations network should involve the increased cooperation between various actors.

Abubakre listed the actors to include policymakers, public health workers, civil society organisations, public sector administrators, academics, and religious and community leaders.

“The collaborations should be focused on building community resilience for withstanding and recovering from the pandemic situation.

“This approach is often referred to as collaborative health emergency preparedness,” he said.

Abubakre noted that developing countries, especially the ones in Sub-Saharan Africa, encountered unique challenges in their capacity to develop practical response actions toward the COVID-19 crisis.

He said some experts had suggested that Africa could become the next epicentre of the pandemic because of the current trends in incidence and underlying vulnerabilities in healthcare systems.

The expert said that as the pandemic transitions intensified in the continent, a multi-stakeholder collaboration was essential.

He said in order to respond to such situations effectively; a critical step was necessary for healthcare leaders and policy makers towards increasing the contextual understanding of the barriers and their interaction with each other.

“Knowledge of the obstacles is crucial as these hindrances could create challenges for different actors from the public and private sectors as well as civil society and nongovernmental organisations,” Abubakre said.