In February 2020, Nigeria faced a potentially catastrophic COVID-19 outbreak due to multiple introductions, high population density in urban slums, prevalence of other infectious diseases and poor health infrastructure . As in other countries, Nigerian policymakers had to make rapid and consequential decisions with limited understanding of transmission dynamics and the efficacy of available control measures . We present an account of the Nigerian COVID-19 response based on co-production of evidence between political decision-makers, health policymakers and academics from Nigerian and foreign institutions, an approach that allowed a multidisciplinary group to collaborate on issues arising in real time . Key aspects of the process were the central role of policymakers in determining priority areas and the coordination of multiple, sometime conflicting inputs from stakeholders to write briefing papers and inform effective national decision making . However, the co-production approach met with some challenges, including limited transparency, bureaucratic obstacles and an overly epidemiological focus on numbers of cases and deaths, arguably to the detriment of addressing social and economic effects of response measures . Larger systemic obstacles included a complex multitiered health system, fragmented decision-making structures and limited funding for implementation . Going forward, Nigeria should strengthen the integration of the national response within existing health decision bodies and implement strategies to mitigate the social and economic impact, particularly on the poorest Nigerians . The co-production of evidence examining the broader public health impact, with synthesis by multidisciplinary teams, is essential to meeting the social and public health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and other countries.
Index: COVID-19, control strategies, health policy, health services research, mathematical modelling