The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has expressed satisfaction with the good services and the commitments of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toward the prevention of epidemic across the country, since inception.
The Minister made this known during his visit to NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Gaduwa, Abuja on the 9th of January 2020, which was part of his routine visits to Departments and Agencies within the Federal Ministry of Health, to ensure their alignment to the vision of this administration to improve the health of Nigerians.
The National Reference Laboratory is the apex Public Health Reference Laboratory of the country and has the mandate to coordinate the diagnosis of diseases of public health importance. Over the last three years, the laboratory has 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 NRL also provides genetic sequencing and other advanced services for research and surveys. In 2018, the NRL served as the central laboratory for the National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) and is well positioned to provide similar support to other disease surveys.
During his visit, the Honourable Minister went on a tour of the facility, interacting with staff who work on the diagnosis of infectious diseases in Nigeria. He observed operations at the molecular laboratory, HIV mega-laboratory, biorepository and other critical areas of the laboratory.
The Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, shared the agency’s progress and the vision for a strong public health laboratory structure in Nigeria. He further highlighted the support of partners notably the World Health Organization, US-Government, Public Health England, Robert Koch Institute and others in strengthening the capacity for public health laboratory services in Nigeria.
In his response, the Honourable Minister expressed his pride at the progress made by the NCDC National Reference Laboratory since its operationalisation in 2017.
He said, ‘Public health is a major priority for the Government of Nigeria. We are very proud that this facility exists and provides critical laboratory functions for the country. We will continue to prioritise its development as an important asset for Nigeria’.
The Honourable Minister also congratulated NCDC on the integration and collaboration that has been achieved across agencies and disease programmes in the health sector. He noted this commendable development especially in light of the current need for prudent and efficient resource utilisation in the country.
In addition to the services provided directly by the NRL, NCDC also coordinates a network of public health laboratories across the country for the diagnosis of epidemic prone diseases.