A virologist, Prof. Sunday Omilabu, has identified nine factors for the emergence and re-emergence of communicable and infectious diseases in the country.
Omilabu, who is of the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said poor environment and over population were the major causes of the communicable and infectious diseases.
He spoke at the 51st Annual Scientific Conference of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) in Lagos.
The conference, which took place at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, had its theme as: “Spread of Infectious Diseases in an Increasing Population; Effects and the Way Forward”.
He said that the major factors contributing to the re-emergence of diseases included the explosion in world population, especially in the developing countries, the inadequacy of social amenities, sexual behaviour, drug abuse, immune suppressions and imported food items.
Omilabu said that infectious diseases alone accounted for 25 per cent of global deaths in 2004.
According to him, infectious diseases have been known for decades and are no longer being considered public health problems; rather, they are now showing upward trends in incidence and prevalence worldwide.
Omilabu said: “Dirty environment, over population, bioterrorism, technology and industry, international travelling and commerce are also some of the contributing factors causing the spread of infectious diseases.
“Again, disease are re-emerging because they have changed their ways of responding to drugs; these viruses and diseases are now resistant to drugs, while many are still hidden.
“The spread of diseases are also as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation as well as the inadequacy of funding in our healthcare system.
“For instance, some hospitals do not have appropriate vaccines in their stores and some do not dispose their medical waste properly.’’
However, Omilabu suggested some measures that could control the spread of diseases.
“There is need for adequate surveillance and response, drug and vaccine development, necessary infrastructure, training experts as well as prevention and control measures.
“Improved socio-economic conditions that support provision of required amenities will go a long way in preventing infectious disease and their re-emergence.
“Every serious country should also develop platforms for diagnosis and epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases.
“The arms against emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, indeed, call for all hands to be on deck through a multi-disciplinary approach,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of AMLSN, Dr Abiodun Hamzat, said that the influx of substandard drugs, abuse of antibiotics and inadequate health plan at the various level of government had also worsened the situation.
He said that this year’s event was the first time the business of medical laboratory practice would be discussed holistically.
According to him, the event will involve strategic partnership, funding, feasibility study and marketing in the laboratory business.
Hamzat also called on governments at all levels to help curtail the spread of infectious diseases across the country.
The members also observed one minute silence for the repose of the soul of the former Acting Chief Registrar of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN), Mrs Olufunke Omotuyi.
Omotuyi was murdered in her Abuja apartment on June 8.