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Infectious disease outbreak preparedness and response in Nigeria: history, limitations and recommendations for global health policy and practice

Testimony J Olumade Oluwafolajimi A Adesanya Iyanuoluwa J Fred-Akintunwa David O Babalola Judith U Oguzie Olusola A Ogunsanya Uwem E George Oluwawapelumi D Akin-Ajani Damilola G Osasona

*Corresponding author: Testimony J Olumade olumadet@run.edu.ng


Effective disease outbreak response has historically been a challenging accomplishment for the Nigerian health system due to an array of hurdles not unique to Nigeria but also found in other African nations which share its large size and complexity. However, the efficiency of the response mounted against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak of 2014 proved that indeed, though challenging, proactive and effective outbreak response is not impossible. With over 20 public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks between 2016 and 2018 alone, Nigeria is one of only five members of the World Health Organization (WHO) African Region to report five or more public health events per annum. There are many lessons that can be drawn from Nigeria’s experience in handling outbreaks of infectious diseases. In this review, we discuss the history of emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria and explore the response strategies mounted towards each. We also highlight the significant successes and note-worthy limitations, which we have then utilized to proffer policy recommendations to strengthen the Nigerian public health emergency response systems.

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