Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has assured of his administration’s continuous support for the healthcare sector especially in the policies and programmes that are designed for the sector.

The Governor made this assurance today at the Opening Ceremony of the 9th African Conference, On One Health and Biosecurity, organized by the Ministry of Health themed: “Maximizing Benefits and Understanding Risks of Synthetic Biology and Other Emerging Biotechnologies in Africa” held at Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat stated that a healthy State is a wealthy State, and the mantra is one that will continue to guide the state’s plans and actions.

The Governor reiterated that “As the Chief Security Officer of Lagos State, my responsibility is to always safeguard residents of the State from security threats, physical or biosecurity, ostensibly, in combating the menace of any pandemic attacks in the future”.

According to Sanwo-Olu, his administration in the last four and half years has been committed to strengthening and improving health security, adding that different initiatives put in place have been results oriented through the  proactive, comprehensive, and inclusive programs as encapsulated in the THEMES + AGENDA of the state, which promotes the improvement of her Environment and Health.

Speaking further on the different initiatives taken by his administration, the Governor stated that consequent to outbreaks of public health emergencies in the last decade, from Ebola in 2014 to outbreak of Lassa Fever and, the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has established a Biobank facility to deepen capacity capable of containing and responding to all biological threats, and has also procured one of the most efficient and sophisticated sequencing machines for the Biobank.

“We have also established the Lagos State Infectious Disease Research Institute, to increase the State’s resilience to future pandemics and epidemics through research and training. This state-of-the-art project is situated on 5,296 square meters of land in the heart of Lagos” he said.

The Governor also added that the government conceptualized and developed an E-Health strategy, Smart Health Information Platform (SHIP), to connect the entire health ecosystems in Lagos State. According to him, will enable connectivity and strengthening of the healthcare system and governance in the state to deliver better, faster, and smarter healthcare services.

He elucidated that to enhance communication and collaboration among multiple sectors and to achieve better public health outcomes, which has been the state’s overriding objective, the government launched a five-year climate action plan that promotes inter-ministerial collaboration which prioritizes action towards zero-carbon emission

Another initiative introduced by the government in recognition of Science and Technology as the main driver of Biosecurity agenda, is a strategic initiative tagged “Lagos State Medical, Industrial and Innovation Zone” (LASMIIZO Project), which will improve the state’s ability to manufacture medical products and consumables, serve as an innovation pipeline. He thereby commended the conference describing it is very apt.

In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi noted the ninth African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity organized by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment (GET) Consortium is aimed at bringing awareness on the trends around biosafety and biosecurity to the people of Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa and Africa as a whole.

He noted that Lagos State has been driving the annual event and as a mega city on the continent of Africa, the state recognizes that it is her responsibility not only to protect the citizens, but to also protect them in isolation, and that if other mega cities around West Africa and Africa fall in prey to biological shocks, it will inevitably affect us also in Lagos.

“So, Lagos is teaming up with the Get Consortium, which is a think tank based in Africa. Its function is to prepare Africans for biological shocks, and this collaboration has been very fruitful for the past nine years” he said.

Dr. Abayomi also emphasized the dual nature of synthetic biology and other emerging biotechnologies, showcasing both its promising benefits for humanity and its potential for misuse, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and regulation.

“The thematic subject matter of this ninth African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity, ‘Maximizing Benefits and Understanding Risks of Synthetic Biology and Other Emerging Biotechnologies in Africa is very interesting especially at this critical time. Synthetic biology is a very complex field. It is a very dramatic and rapidly evolving scientific field where scientists now have the ability to change and alter the genetic code of any living organism and, in fact to have the ability to create new life forms.

“Now, synthetic biology has huge potential for the future of humanity. But like all great inventions, there is also the possibility of using it for great harm in a phenomenon called dual purpose and so today, we are bringing the awareness of what synthetic biology is to Lagos, to Nigeria, and to Africans and everybody around the world that is engaged in biosecurity and creating the opportunity for us as government to understand the subject matter but also to trigger our scientists and our community to be more aware of what the products of synthetic biology are what the benefits could be and the threats synthetic biology can pose to us as African”.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Chief Operating Officer, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET), Dr. Ayodotun  Bobadoye said that the conference will offer a platform to raise National, Regional, and Continental awareness and also create opportunities to strengthen regulatory frameworks, ethics, social issues, policy gap that will adequately address the biosecurity concern associated with synthetic biology and other emerging biotechnologies.

He also added that the conference offers opportunities for the highly agro-based African economies to overcome challenges that threaten food security, environmental degradation, and health security.

He said “There is no denying the fact that the era of synthetic biology and modern biotechnologies are here with us. it’s obvious how synthetic biology is transforming Medicine, Agriculture, Environment, Biomedical industry”.

He however stressed that the benefits of these biotechnologies can be achieved through robust policy that regulates its activities by protecting humans, animal and environmental health.


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