The National Biosafety Management Agency of Nigeria (NBMA) has called for a harmonised national biosecurity policy guideline and emergency response strategy to prevent harmful biological agents in the environment.
Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 against the backdrop of the global pandemic COVID-19.
Ebegba said the need to develop a biosecurity policy and emergency response strategy for Nigeria was timely as COVID-19 pandemic had brought to the fore the need to control biological agents.
According to him, those agents may be harmful to human health and the environment.
“You see everything has its own time and globally the issue of biosecurity has not been brought into international discuss in an elaborate way.
“But what has happened is going to give the globe a different perspective on the issue of biosecurity. So Nigeria coming in with a policy and strategy is very timely.
“We want a centralised system knowing full well that the agency has been given the mandate to put in place biosecurity measures.
“We want to work with existing structures to see how we can have a national position to have a national biosecurity policy and to have a national biosecurity emergency response strategy,” he said.
According to him, what happened is as a result of harmful biological agents that are hazardous to human health, so the strategies needed are to tackle emergencies.
The D-G said that the guidelines and regulations to be developed would ensure those who maliciously release harmful biological agents into the environment were punished.
He, however, said the agency had prescribed penalties for violations on issues of biosafety.
Ebegba said that the Federal Government needed to ensure that proper funding of the process was adequately concluded that the health of Nigerians and the environment would be protected.
He assured Nigerians that though the pandemic had caused a lot of changes in the global economy, the government of Nigeria was adequately prepared to properly contain it through preventive measures.
Ebegba said the Federal Government had set up a coalition of government agencies, which the NBMA was a part of, to ensure the proper management of COVID-19.
He said the agency had joined voices with other government agencies to ensure the public was properly enlightened on how to prevent COVID-19.
“We have come out with press statements, and to ensure we are protected against it, we have developed some flyers which we have put on our website.’’
The biosafety boss urged Nigerians not to panic assuring that government had put in place all necessary measures to ensure the pandemic was properly contained in the country.
“We also seek the cooperation from Nigerians and we want to strongly advise that everyone should avoid those countries where the prevalence are more pronounced for now.
“Also anyone that comes from such countries should make themselves available for proper screening.
“If the person needs to be quarantined, the government has designated quarantine centres to ensure the spread in minimised as much as possible.”
By Okeoghene Akubuike