The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday, visited Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Gaduwa, Abuja, as part of his routine visits to departments and agencies under the Federal Ministry of Health.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NRL is the apex Public Health Reference Laboratory of the country and has the mandate to coordinate the diagnosis of diseases of public health importance.
Ehanire said that the visit was to ensure that departments and agencies that were key to the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration improved the health of Nigerians.
During the visit, the minister went around the facility and interacted with staff diagnosing infectious diseases in the country.
The minister also observed operations at the molecular laboratory, the HIV mega-laboratory, the biorepository and other critical areas of the laboratory.
He expressed delight at the progress made by the NCDC NRL since 2017, noting that “public health is a major government priority in Nigeria. We are very proud that this facility exists and provides critical laboratory functions for the country. We will continue to prioritize its development as an important asset to the nation.”
He congratulated NCDC on the integration and collaboration achieved across agencies and disease programmes in the health sector.
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, shared the centre’s progress and vision for a strong public health laboratory structure in the country.
Ihekweazu further highlighted the support of partners, notably World Health Organisation (WHO), U.S.-Government and Public Health England, Robert Koch Institute and others in strengthening the capacity for public health laboratory services in the country.
The NCDC boss said that in addition to services provided directly by the NRL, NCDC also coordinates a network of public health laboratories across the country for diagnosis of epidemic-prone diseases.
NAN recalls that over the last three years, the laboratory developed the capacity for molecular diagnosis of Lassa fever, monkeypox, yellow fever, measles, rubella, meningitis, cholera and highly pathogenic infections such as Ebola.
In addition to its diagnostic capacity, the laboratory also provides genetic sequencing and other advanced services for research and surveys.
In 2018, the NRL served as a central laboratory for National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) and is well positioned to provide similarly support for other disease surveys.