The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is partnering the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) to spearhead the rapid establishment and activation of testing laboratories in the country.
It said the collaboration with NCDC and other crucial donors had been highly rewarding.
McPaul Okoye, U.S. CDC laboratory branch chief in Nigeria, revealed this at a media roundtable on Tuesday in Abuja. According to him, the collaboration is strengthening Nigeria’s laboratory capacity for testing, bringing together a total of 163 operational laboratories under its network, from only three laboratories before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Okoye said Nigeria’s response to the pandemic achieved a breakthrough with the most rapid expansion in laboratory capacity for COVID-19 testing.
“In 2020, at the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, only three laboratories had the capacity to test for COVID-19 infection. U.S. CDC, in partnership with NCDC and other key donors, facilitated and provided the required technical assistance for the rapid establishment and activation of laboratories with capacity for COVID-19 testing,” stated Mr Okoye. “As a result of this, Nigeria recorded the most rapid expansion in LAB capacity for COVID-19 testing that resulted in 163 labs with testing capacity.”
Mr Okoye said the support provided by the U.S. CDC extended beyond laboratory establishment.
“It also includes the inauguration of a National Biorepository Centre (NBC) at the National Reference Laboratory (NRL). USCDC has also supported the establishment of a National Biorepository Center (NBC) at the NRL. The NBC is set up to provide standard storage facilities for biological samples and specimens that are used for research, quality assurance, system validation, product development and for the training of personnel on standard sample management,” Mr Okoye explained.
He disclosed that the NBC was currently accredited by the National Health Research Ethical Committee and currently houses more than one million samples from different national surveys.
Olajumoke Babatunde, public health lab service director of the NCDC, said the centre would further bolster the agency’s capability in its mandate of protecting Nigerians from different diseases.
“This is aligned with Nigeria’s obligations under International Health Regulations(IHR) 2005 and recommendations from Nigeria’s 2023 Joint External Evaluation (JEE),” stated Ms Babatunde.
She said the NCDC’s implementation of its tiered laboratory network was intended to establish an effective network of testing laboratories for diseases of public health importance.
Farah Husain, the programme director of the Division of Global Health Protection U.S. CDC, said CDC Nigeria was the country’s office of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with a vision of public health excellence for healthy Nigerians.