Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, on Monday formalized the appointment of Dr Adekemi Oluwayemisi Sekoni as his Chief Scientific Adviser to always guide the state on how to use science to find answers to the issues of now and anticipate the issues of tomorrow.
The Governor who spoke at the Conference Room of the Lagos House, Ikeja, before a gathering of members of the State Executive Council and relations of the appointee, noted that her job would be to gather, to share, to process, to project, to research and help keep everybody informed of the scientific issues that relate to public health and other challenges.
He added that the new SA would become very useful in the State’s campaign against noise pollution which started with the Horn Free Day, saying she must look into the many sides to reducing noise level in the society.
Governor Fashola reiterated that the new appointee would also help protect and inform the State about Climate change and the impact on the people’s lives and across the world and what can be done better in mitigation and adaptation.
He described her appointment as another big step by the Government, recalling that when the Ebola Virus Disease was imported into Lagos by the American- Liberian, he told everyone then that though it has been effectively contained, the work has not finished, as there are many sides of Ebola that go beyond the disease itself.
“There is the economic angle which we are dealing with and there are many unexamined sides. There are businesses, Nigerian businesses in Sierra Leone, in Liberia, that are already experiencing difficulty. We are yet to determine how the impact will affect food supply in the whole region, where people are dying; people have been displaced, so there is a lot of lesson to be learnt about how this affects businesses and what is the actual loss”, he added.
He noted that the last Ebola Virus Disease is not going to be the last infectious disease that the human civilization would deal with as there would be new ones, adding that at one point there was HIV AIDS, there was H1N1, there was SARS, just as there was foot and mouth disease.
“We need to be more prepared, there would be questions. What should we do to prevent a re-infection? There would be questions that I cannot answer. What can we learn from those who are infected or those who were cured? What kind of immunization have they acquired, is it possible that their blood samples can help give other people succour and protection. These and many more are questions which we must find answers to and develop well thought out plans ahead of today”.
“And that is why we found a scientist who had done some work in epidemiology, in public health because public health issues are the biggest issues in urban centres today. So when we are talking about noise pollution, we reduce horn as a first step, it is all about reducing deafness and reducing stress”, the Governor emphasized.
He reiterated that when the last incident of Ebola occurred, the health workers took the front stage and did their best to contain it but that the people who were not infected then needed information and needed to know the risks and what to do.
“Some of the answers to this question were provided by some of the health workers working with me. We were holding town hall meetings, based on the information I was reading, gathering information online, getting tips from the health workers and passing it to members of the public”.
“I think that we can do better than that because I recall that one of the things that was advised then was to reassure all of you that Ebola was not an automatic death sentence and also that it is not airborne disease so that the people can gain some confidence and we can remove some fear and act and think logically”, the Governor maintained.
Governor Fashola also hinted that post Ebola, one of the steps, the present administration has embarked upon in trying to get businesses back on is a review of the State public health law and that an amended draft bill has been sent to State House of Assembly for consideration, stressing that when it is passed, it could give more scope and powers in the management of infectious diseases and public health challenges.
Accepting her appointment, the Chief Scientific Adviser pledged her commitment, diligence and selfless service in providing scientific advice on science, engineering and technology related issues.
She added that this will serve as the high quality robust evidence needed for informed decision making of the state and would also guide the policy making decisions and design of effective systems within government for managing and using science.
“With the help of various experts in the field of science and engineering, the State Government would be provided with advice based on scientific information on issues relating to emergencies such as the recent outbreak of Ebola and other infectious diseases, natural and manmade disasters which are likely to affect the health and wellbeing of Lagosians”, he stated.
Dr Sekoni emphasized that Scientific evidence would also be provided to help the state forecast and adequately prepare for issues including global warming, food security, air pollution and water insufficiency.
The Governor later signed the Executive Order certifying the appointment of Dr Adekemi Oluwayemisi Sekoni as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Governor at the event which was witnessed by some members of the State Executive Council including the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire and Special Adviser to the Governor on Environment, Dr Taofik Folami who read the citation of the new appointee.
Dr Adekemi Oluwayemisi Sekoni who was born on 9th November 1968 is currently a senior lecturer in Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
She holds a MB.Ch.B from the Ogun State University (1992), A Master of Public Health (2004), MSc Public Health (Epidemiology) 2008 and a Post Graduate Diploma (Hospital Management) 2007.