Pandemics: UK expert advises Nigerian leaders, others on collaborations

Multi-sector organisations in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries have been urged to collaborate in enhancing their capabilities in preparation and response to national pandemics.

The advice was given by the founder of a United Kingdom firm, TEXEM UK, Dr Alim Abubakre, a British-Nigerian, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

While referring to relevant authorities, Abubakre, an academic at Coventry University, noted that such collaborations were highly effective in achieving health outcomes.

However, he asserted that collaborations would likely fail to achieve their goals when there were leadership challenges with minimal resources, which was the scenario in many African countries.

“Using available resources most efficiently and equitably is an essential consideration for countries seeking to meet the enormous financial requirements to respond to the coronavirus crisis,” Abubakre said.

He said that, unfortunately, multiple studies on the obstacles to effective collaboration had focused on environments of developed countries like the United States and Sweden.

According to Abubakre, African leaders and policymakers in the health sector should realise that “developed – country contexts are quite different from developing ones, and they have been relatively under -researched by academic scholars”.

The don said that the recent coronavirus pandemic had aptly demonstrated the intricate inter-connectedness and inter-dependence of human beings worldwide.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a reminder of the shared vulnerability of people.

“It should also remind us of the need for countries to pursue a multi-sectoral collaboration for the planning and coordination of an effective response to pandemics,” Abubakre said.

He said that one trend in the collaborations network should involve the increased cooperation between various actors.

Abubakre listed the actors to include policymakers, public health workers, civil society organisations, public sector administrators, academics, and religious and community leaders.

“The collaborations should be focused on building community resilience for withstanding and recovering from the pandemic situation.

“This approach is often referred to as collaborative health emergency preparedness,” he said.

Abubakre noted that developing countries, especially the ones in Sub-Saharan Africa, encountered unique challenges in their capacity to develop practical response actions toward the COVID-19 crisis.

He said some experts had suggested that Africa could become the next epicentre of the pandemic because of the current trends in incidence and underlying vulnerabilities in healthcare systems.

The expert said that as the pandemic transitions intensified in the continent, a multi-stakeholder collaboration was essential.

He said in order to respond to such situations effectively; a critical step was necessary for healthcare leaders and policy makers towards increasing the contextual understanding of the barriers and their interaction with each other.

“Knowledge of the obstacles is crucial as these hindrances could create challenges for different actors from the public and private sectors as well as civil society and non-governmental organisations,” Abubakre said.

He also mentioned that the obstacles or lack of knowledge could prevent actors from effectively preparing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and planning for future health emergencies.

Abubakre was interviewed following the publication of his impactful article published in the International Public Management Journal.

The article’s title is Modeling the barriers to multi-stakeholder collaboration for COVID-19 pandemic response: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa.

The International Public Management Journal is ranked at par with Harvard Business Review by the Association of Business Schools.

The article was written by an interdisciplinary and international team led by Dr Dayo Akinroye of Liverpool John Moores University.

Speaking on the publication, Abubakre said it “offers actionable insights into how to strategically lead in a crisis for policymakers, business leaders and directors in the third sector”.

“Specifically, this article underscored the importance of having a systemic and holistic approach to solving health, and by extension, security, poverty, educational and social cohesion pandemics.

“All these pandemics are ravaging Nigeria and some parts of the developing world because government initiatives and corporate social responsibility projects are done in silos.

“And, this process appears to make those efforts too little too small.

“The private sector, government, third sector, and multilateral organisations should have a joined-up and multi-stakeholder approach to solving societal challenges.

“A strategy that countenances multi-stakeholders expectations will enhance organisations’ potential and capability to advance prosperity for all, optimising performance and fostering national cohesion for global benefit,” he added. (NAN)

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