UK expert advises African leaders on preparation, response to pandemics

By Peter Usman://

Founder of a United Kingdom-based firm, TEXEM UK, Dr. Alim Abubakre, has urged multi-sector organisations in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries to collaborate in enhancing their capabilities in preparation and response to national pandemics.

Abubakre, a British-Nigerian, who noted that such collaborations were highly effective in achieving positive results in health programmes, however, regretted that leadership challenges with minimal resources, which was the scenario in many African countries, have always been the bane of such partnerships in the past.

The Coventry University don, while speaking to journalists in Abuja, therefore advised that one trend in the collaborations network should involve the increased cooperation between various actors.

“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,” Abubakre 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”.

The expert said that the recent coronavirus pandemic had aptly demonstrated the intricate inter-connectedness and inter-dependence 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.

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 non-governmental organisations,” Abubakre said.

He also mentioned that the obstacles or lack of knowledge could prevent actors from effectively preparing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and planning for future health emergencies.

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