Lagos governor emphasizes need for biosecurity, healthcare advancement

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has underscored the importance of proactive biosecurity measures and the evolving landscape of biotechnologies in Africa.

The Governor stated this yesterday in his address at the 9th Annual One Health and Biosecurity Conference, hosted by the Lagos State Ministry of Health in partnership with the Global Emerging Treatment (GET) Consortium at the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented at the event by the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, highlighted the conference’s pivotal role in addressing emerging health emergencies with precision and readiness and commended Prof. Akin Abayomi, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, and Dr. Ayodotun Bobadoye, Chief Operating Officer of GET Consortium, for their consistent efforts in organising the vital annual discourse.

He noted that the theme of the year’s conference, “Maximising Benefits and Understanding Risks of Synthetic Biology and Other Emerging Biotechnologies in Africa”, resonates deeply with Lagos State’s realities, stressing that despite being the smallest by landmass, Lagos houses over 20 million people and a significant economic hub, making it susceptible to biosecurity shocks.

Governor Sanwo-Olu reiterated his commitment to ensuring residents’ safety, emphasising the state’s proactive health security initiatives under the THEMES Plus Agenda.

He outlined his administration’s key biosecurity programmes geared toward residents’ safety, including investment in genomic sequencing, the establishment of an Infectious Disease Research Institute, the Lagos State Smart Health Information Platform Project, and the promotion of the One Health Initiative.

Encouraging experts to contribute their expertise towards a healthier Lagos, Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed confidence in the conference’s outcomes. He assured continued support for healthcare policies and programmes while emphasising that a healthy state is a wealthy state.

The Governor posited that the conference stands as a pivotal platform to address biosecurity concerns associated with synthetic biology at national and regional levels, fostering awareness and reinforcing regulatory frameworks. He expressed optimism that discussions at the event would pave the way for a healthier and safer environment in Lagos and beyond.

Earlier in his presentation on the theme: “Maximising Benefits and Understanding Risks of Synthetic Biology and Other Emerging Biotechnologies in Africa”, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi highlighted Lagos State biosecurity measures showcasing the State Government’s commitment to cutting-edge biosecurity and healthcare advancements.

Addressing the economic aspects of genomic diversity, the Commissioner emphasized the integration of this knowledge within the biobank infrastructure.

The Commissioner stressed the importance of such insights in assessing environmental impacts on public health, identifying population disease susceptibilities, and recognising disease resistance.

Demonstrating Lagos State’s proactive approach, Abayomi showcased ongoing training initiatives for biobank staff in gene sequencing and molecular biology, adding that the expertise facilitated the understanding of various COVID-19 variants and enabled the state to strategise effectively against their impact on the population.

Acknowledging the limitations faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commissioner announced plans for the development of the Infectious Disease Research Institute, designed to house advanced BSL4 facilities, adding that the complex when completed would be the first BSL4 in Sub-Saharan Africa, integrating research capabilities for pathogen monitoring, and ensuring Lagos remains at the forefront of disease surveillance and response.

He also stressed ongoing efforts to establish policies and legislation around Bio banking and biosecurity, outlining the state’s proactive measures to enhance biosecurity agencies and bolster its pandemic preparedness through innovative strategies and bioinformatics.

Also speaking, the Chief Operating Officer of GET Consortium, Dr. Ayodotun Bobadoye highlighted biosecurity concerns, stressing the urgency of addressing escalating biosecurity threats across Africa.

He noted that the GET Consortium, a leading biosecurity organisation in Africa, is committed to bolstering governmental and non-governmental capacities to combat emerging infectious diseases and biosecurity risks.

Recognizing Lagos State’s proactive stance in biosecurity preparedness, Dr. Bobadoye commended the state’s continuous efforts in raising awareness, capacity building, and readiness to address biosecurity threats. “Lagos remains at the forefront, showcasing a commitment to safeguarding against potential risks posed by emerging diseases and biotechnologies”, he said.

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