U.S. CDC collaborates with NCDC to establish rapid testing laboratories

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By Abujah Racheal

The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says it is partnering with 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.

Mr McPaul Okoye, US 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.

Okoye said that Nigeria’s response to the pandemic achieved a remarkable breakthrough with the most rapid expansion in laboratory capacity for COVID-19 testing.

He said: “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.

“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,” he said.

Okoye said that 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).

“U.S. CDC has also supported the establishment of a National Biorepository Center (NBC) at the NRL.

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“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,” he said.

He disclosed that the NBC was currently accredited by the National Health Research Ethical Committee, adding that it currently houses more than one million samples from different national surveys.

Mrs Olajumoke Babatunde, Director of Public Health Lab Service, NCDC, said the centre would further bolster the agency’s capability in its mandate of protecting Nigerians from different diseases.

Babatunde said: “This is aligned with Nigeria’s obligations under International Health Regulations(IHR) 2005 and recommendations from Nigeria’s 2023 Joint External Evaluation(JEE).

She said that 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.

Dr Farah Husain, Programme Director, Division of Global Health Protection, U.S. CDC, said that 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.

According to Husain, the office supports the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), its department, agencies, state ministries of health and several key partners.

“It helps in developing, implementing, and evaluating disease response efforts and programmes that contribute to strengthen public health infrastructure in Nigeria.”

According to her, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the importance of ensuring public health systems can adequately detect, prevent, respond to, and recover from, health emergencies.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the roundtable highlights U.S. CDC and Nigeria’s collaborative work in laboratory system strengthening and its impact on public health service delivery in Nigeria.

Since 2004, the United States and Nigeria have partnered to improve laboratory networks, systems and services.

These collaborations have consistently yielded results as the nation’s laboratory capacity continues to grow in quantity and quality. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Ephraims Sheyin

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