Wed, June 03, 2009
Lifestyle > Health

WHO donates A/H1N1 influenza drugs to Nigeria

2009-06-03 11:54:13 GMT2009-06-03 19:54:13 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LAGOS, June 3 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday in Abuja donated some A/H1N1 influenza drugs Oseltamivir Tamiflu worth of 408 million naira (2.8 million U.S. dollars) to the Nigerian federal government, according to the reports of the News Agency of Nigeria.

Peter Eriki, the WHO Country Representative, who presented the drugs to the Minister of Health, Babatunde Osotimehin, said the drugs could also be used to treat bird flu infections.

The WHO official said in response to the current pandemic, the WHO had arranged the first deployment of antiviral drugs from its stockpile to 72 countries, adding that priority was given to vulnerable countries, taking into consideration national manufacturing and procurement capacity.

"Nigeria is among the 72 countries selected to receive these drugs,'' he said.

Eriki said for over five years, the WHO had been tackling the outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza in poultry and sporadic frequently fatal human cases.

According to him, Nigeria was one of the countries that had recorded cases of the H5NI Avian Influenza since its outbreak in 2006.

"As a result of this, Nigeria has been implementing a comprehensive program for pandemic preparedness and response," he said.

"WHO, other agencies and partners, have been supporting the national pandemic preparedness and response through training of health workers, improving capacity in surveillance, case management, laboratory diagnosis and coordination of responses,'' he added.

Eriki disclosed that the WHO had stockpiled five million doses of the drugs, due to the health risks posed by Avian Influenza.

He added that the quantity of drugs donated to the Nigerian federal government would be enough to treat at least 184,800 people. Responding, Osotimehin reiterated the government's commitment to protecting the health of the citizens, saying that Nigeria was now more prepared to handle current and future pandemics.

He said the WHO had taken proactive measures to combat A/H1N1 influenza across the world.

He assured the WHO that the ministry had in place a mechanism to ensure that the donated drugs were sent to the right places and used appropriately whenever the need arose.

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