The Cross River State Government has inaugurated its Public Health Emergency Operations Centre to curb emerging disease outbreaks and rising cases of drug abuse in the state.
Inaugurating the centre in Calabar, Professor Ivara Esu, the Acting Governor of the state, said the centre was established to be proactive in responding to emerging communicable diseases.
Esu said the state Ministry of Health and the Primary Healthcare Development Agency had been on the fore-front in ensuring the prevention and control of disease outbreaks in the state.
According to him, the state had witnessed drastic reduction in the maternal and child mortality rate, adding that the Governor Ben Ayade-led administration places premium on the healthcare of residents.
“Today, we are gathered here to commission the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre which will be another first in the state and the South-South region.
“This centre will breach the gap between the local government areas, states, national and international information surveillance system and accelerate response and intervention.
“Recently, we launched the Cross River Health Insurance Scheme, while our health centres have witnessed a massive revitalisation and our school of nursing has taken off.
We have also done the second round of immunisation for children of school age against diseases across the state,’’ he said.
Dr Inyang Asibong, the state Commissioner for Health, said that Cross River was strategically linked with international communities through air, land borders and waterways, hence the need for the centre.
Asibong said that the state currently harbours over 20,000 asylum seekers from Cameroon, being a migration gateway, which exposes residents to high risk of communicable and infectious diseases.
She said that the centre would be upgraded to run as programmed, the state will also move into the next phase of re-designing health emergencies.
“The Cross River Ministry of Heath has a robust strategic health plan with inputs from development partners to cater for our pressing challenges in healthcare delivery system.
“I desire to see a centre that is fully committed to accepting full responsibilities for its action; a centre that goes beyond a unit,’’ she said.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the National Coordinator, Centre for Disease Control, said that Cross River was witnessing another phase of transformation in the health sector.
Ihekweazu said that the centre would serve as a platform where development partners, stakeholders and relevant agencies would come together to brainstorm and promote the health of the people.
He commended the state government for responding timely to previous cases of disease outbreaks in the state.