Akwa Ibom EOC, Bar For States To Follow-NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Dis ease Control (NCDC) has said that the stateof-the-art emergency operations centre (EOC) established by the Akwa Ibom government is a bar setting for other states of the federation to follow. The director-general, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who made the remark during that virtual commissioning of the emergency centre located at Dakkaka Secretariat, Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo, recently, observed that Akwa Ibom has an excellent spirit which informed setting the bar very high in performance for other states of the federation to follow. "Akwa Ibom State has set standard and we don't expect anything less from other states, he submitted. Ihekweazu lauded the state government in its proactive measures to curb the global pandemic and praised the incidence management team for working very hard and making decisions that guarantee safety to the public. He described the Akwa Ibom Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) as one of the best in the country and the   EOC as being the best across the states in the federation from all ramifications. The NCDC boss assured of commitment in partnering to ensure that Akwa Ibom was COVID-19 free. The state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who performed the commissioning, noted that the   EOC will serve residents and citizens in the state by facilitating the seamless coordination and integration of state government actions to both curb and contend the spread of the virus. Represented by the secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem,  the governor maintained that the centre will enable centralized, real-time monitoring and predictive modelling for enhanced coordination of activities and informed decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies. He added that the facility will help to turn the tide of the pandemic within the state and ultimately the nation to flatten the COVID-19 curve. The state chief executive held that the setting up of the communication call centre and Covid-19 situation rooms within the EOC was carried out with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Reaching Impact, Saturation and Epidemic Control (RISE) project led by JHPIEGO and in collaboration with Data Fi working closely with the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health. Said he: "The COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the world today has been an eye-opener for us to review our health policies and provide matching infrastructure. He explained that the 22room facility houses the EOC situation room, communications centre, a conference hall, four call rooms and other amenities. He pointed out that though the state government had initiated the process of establishing an emergency operating centre (EOC) years back, COVID-19 has acerbated the process. According to him, "The vision of the state government is that the EOC will help not just for COVID-19 response, but for all other medical emergencies and security challenges as it will have coordinating facilities for the  Nigeria Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps and  the Fire Service. He recalled with delight that on May 29, 2020, the state government commissioned an ultra-modern world-class 300bed isolation treatment centre at the Methodist General Hospital, Ituk Mbang, Uruan. The centre, which  he said was completed in six weeks does not only have a  treatment centre but  a sophisticated PCR, bringing to four the number of isolation centres namely: the  Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Ikot Ekpene, Ibom Multi-Specialty Hospital and  the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH). The governor acknowledged the support by the United States Government through USAID in the various health programmes including HIV/AIDS, malaria and family planning and implored them to also take advantage of the conducive atmosphere in the state to make investment. Emmanuel extended appreciation to other organizations that contributed in one way or the other towards the COVID 19 response and commended the health care team working seriously in the front line to contend the pandemic with high recovery rate.  Mrs Mary Beth Leonard, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, noted that with the commissioning of the EOCs, Nigeria can better coordinate the COVID-19 outbreak response and surveillance activities as well as other emergent disease outbreaks. Leonard said the United States Government had been in partnership with Akwa Ibom government in its various programmes such as the HIV/ AIDS, malaria and family planning, etc. She assured that the agency was committed to working with the Akwa Ibom government and Federal Government of Nigeria in their response to COVID-19 pandemic, mitigating its impact, while supporting Nigeria's journey to selfreliance. Country director of JHPIEGO, Dr Oniyire Adetiloye, said the EOC has been activated in eight states so far, with four in the North and four in the South, adding that Akwa Ibom has stood out in the fight against COVID-19.

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