Ehanire promises to prioritise NCDC development as important asset for Nigeria
Ehanire who stated this during his visit to the laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja, expressed delight at the progress made by the facility since its operationalisation in 2017.
The minister, who toured the facility and interacted with the staff that work on the diagnosis of infectious diseases in Nigeria, said the move is 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.
Ehanire observed operations at the molecular laboratory, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) mega-laboratory, biorepository and other critical areas of the laboratory.
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 minister also congratulated NCDC on the integration and collaboration that has been achieved across agencies and disease programmes in the health sector, noting that this is a commendable development, especially in light of the current need for prudent and efficient resource utilisation in the country.
The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who along with his team received the minister of health, shared the agency’s progress and vision for a strong public health laboratory structure in Nigeria.
He highlighted the support of partners, notably the World Health Organisation, United States-Government, Public Health England, Robert Koch Institute and others in strengthening the capacity for public health laboratory services in Nigeria.
While highlighting the activities and successes of the facility, Ihekweazu said 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.
He said the laboratory has over the last three years developed the capacity for molecular diagnosis of Lassa fever, monkeypox, yellow fever, measles, rubella, meningitis, cholera and highly pathogenic infections such as Ebola.
He said in addition to the laboratory’s diagnostic capacity, it also provides genetic sequencing and other advanced services for research and surveys.
“In 2018, the NRL served as the central laboratory for the National Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) and is well positioned to provide similar support to other disease surveys,” he added.