Ezekwesili, Chukwu, Others to Discuss Role of Environment, Governance in Respiratory Illness

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Bennett Oghifo

The role the environment and governance play in the prevalence of respiratory illness will be the focus of a brainstorming session at the 2019 Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Annual National Asthma Conference.

A statement by the Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF), convener of the conference, said its theme is “Better Breathing, Better Living: The Role of the Environment and Governance,” and that it would hold next week Thursday at  Oaklands Hotel in Enugu.

According to the statement, the Board Chairman of ACUF, Dr. Chiwuike Uba said the annual national asthma conference “is to throw more light on the role of the environment and governance on management of respiratory diseases; especially, asthma.”

Uba said the conference is so important, in view of people dying daily from air pollution related diseases, including asthma complications and that “the conference is expected to X-ray the linkages between the environment and governance and its impacts on health management, as well as make policy recommendations on ways to deal with the identified challenges.”

He named some of the key speakers at the conference to include Nigeria’s former Minister for Health – Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu who will be the chairman of the Conference; Dr. Oby Ezekwesili –the former World Bank Vice-President and Nigeria’s former Education Minister and presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) in the 2019 general elections;  renowned public policy expert, Prof. Tunji Olaopa, Consultant Public Health Physician, Prof. Benjamin Uzochukwu, Consultant Respiratory and Chest Physician, Prof. Gregory Efosa Emerhbor, administrator and health professional, Prof. Rowland Ndoma-Egba, Ademola H. Adigun, Dr. Adaeze Ayuk, Dr. Ifediora Amobi, Larry Oguego, among other national and international experts.

The theme of the conference, he said was unique and that it came at the right time because “we are faced with challenges ranging from being rated as one the most polluted countries in the word to a country grappling with a lot of problems associated with other governance issues. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is responsible for more than 12 million deaths per year. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets —SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 6 (Clean water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable clean energy), SDG 13 (Climate action), SDG 14 (Life below water) and SDG 16 (Peace, Security and Strong Institutions) is dependent on the environment and governance outcomes.

“The Annual Conference is a platform to discuss national issues, especially health and related matters in an evidenced-based approach. The workshop provides policy alternatives and action plan on how to solve the identified challenges, because most diseases are associated with environmental and governance issues.

“Therefore, the 2019 conference will look at issues related to our environmental governance and other governance issues, as they affect the health management in Nigeria.  Governance is core to a sustainable environment and development. We recognise that Nigeria’s economy will be improved if the environment provides better breathing and people live a healthy life with a guaranteed access to quality and affordable health care. So, for a conference of this nature, you need people who have passion and genuinely working for the progress, prosperity and renaissance of our dear country, Nigeria.”

Uba further revealed that collaborators like Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS), the Knowledge and Policy Management Initiative (KAPOMI) and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance, Nigeria are partners in the conference, even as he said that the choice of keynote and experts for the conference is “based on their passion for good governance, inclusiveness, access to quality and affordable healthcare and their expertise in the areas they would be speaking on.”   Dr. Uba also called for partnership to develop more strategic sources of funding in order to ensure sustainable long-term programming and improve the quality of life of people. “Painfully, we are unable to do all that we propose to do; as a result of financial challenges. It is our hope that people will begin to support the Foundation financially by making donations and getting involved in fund raising for ACUF. We indeed need financial support.” He thanked those who have provided some support to the Foundation. “We also wish to appreciate individuals and some corporate organisations that have provided one form of support or the other to the Foundation for the Conference; especially, Oaklands Hotel & Amusement Park, and Little Lung Africa (LLA),”  he said.

ACUF was founded in 2016, in memory of Mrs Amaka Uba, who died of asthma complications in 2016 with the vision of a society with better breathing, better living, and a happier, united and prosperous people. In achieving its mission of improving the quality of life of people, it carries out its objectives through facilitation of evidence-based socio-economic research, policy dialogues/advocacy, training and education and networking.