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54gene inaugurates tech-enabled diagnostic hubs to boost patient health outcomes

By Abigail Ikhaghu
16 December 2021   |   4:06 am
In its bid to advance African genomics research for improved global health outcomes, a health technology company, 54gene, has announced the inauguration of its diagnostics subsidiary, 7RiverLabs.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong

In its bid to advance African genomics research for improved global health outcomes, a health technology company, 54gene, has announced the inauguration of its diagnostics subsidiary, 7RiverLabs.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, at the inauguration of 7RiverLabs, in Lagos, said the diagnostic hubs fitted with state-of-the-art technology will offer healthcare providers and patients access to world-class cost-effective, speedy, reliable and advanced molecular diagnostics.

Ene-Obong said physical locations with over 100 employees are already open in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, with additional centres due to launch in 10 key Nigerian cities in the coming months. Pan-African expansion for 7RiverLabs is also on course for 2022 with new countries being launched from first quarter (Q1) of 2022.

The CEO said: “Since its launch in 2019, 54gene has driven and continues to drive genomics and molecular medicine throughout Africa. During that time, 54gene experienced first-hand the gap in precision diagnostics on the African continent and how this has limited patient health outcomes and precision medicine applications and activities, such as the unavailability of companion diagnostics for life saving drugs and precision medicine clinical trials. This has also resulted in patients and their doctors having to send diagnostic samples outside the African continent at significant financial and health costs to patients. Built on the vision of equalising precision medicine/diagnostics for African populations, 7RiverLabs (named after the 7 rivers on the continent) through 54gene, has domesticated diagnostic technology, eliminating the need for samples to be sent abroad for analysis at what is often a considerable cost to African patients. Physicians will now be able to detect and prevent diseases earlier, thereby helping to improve patients’ treatment outcomes and quality of health.”

As part of its mission to establish itself as a principal provider of diagnostic care driven by ultra-modern technology, 54gene has appointed its Chief Business Officer, Jude Uzonwanne, as the new subsidiary’s interim CEO.

Through the use of state-of-the-art laboratories and marked workflow improvements, over 300 critical molecular tests can now be performed safely and securely in Africa, covering oncology, infectious diseases, genetic testing and sequencing, anatomic pathology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, haematology serving both communicable and non-communicable diseases. With some tests costing as little as a few thousand naira – generally more affordable than the prevailing market rates – results, depending on the complexity, are provided in as little time as a few hours to a few days and are sent digitally to patients’ physicians for follow-up.

Ene-Obong added: “Launching 7RiverLabs is a manifestation of one of the goals 54gene set out to achieve two years ago – to improve diagnostic and treatment outcomes on the continent by leveraging advances in the precision medicine space.

With the range of tests 7RiverLabs offers, millions of Africans can begin to take greater control of their health. The creation of this new subsidiary also allows 54gene to continue it’s important work of understanding human genetic diversity and translating genetics-driven insights and discoveries to serve the global good. ”

Uzonwanne said: “Our goal with this new subsidiary is to ensure that every African has access to advanced laboratory tests without having to pay an exorbitant out-of-pocket fee. Patients will receive speedy results that will guide their physicians in reducing late diagnoses leading to poor chances of survival, improve their treatment options and ultimately their quality of life. 7RiverLabs is complementing government and industry efforts to attain the Nigerian Ministry of Health’s mandate towards improved care for the general population. Hundreds of molecular tests will be made available for millions of people at a fraction of the cost of transporting samples overseas thereby helping to increase early disease-detection and screening rates and save lives. This is groundbreaking news for Nigeria; and as we forge trusted partnerships with leading health insurers, hospitals and healthcare professionals, we anticipate that hundreds more jobs will be created in our expansion of services across Africa”.

It is estimated that of 2021, the addressable market for medical tests in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently worth US$10 billion and is projected to grow at four per cent per annum. At present, the majority of molecular tests are sent outside of the continent.

54gene is a health technology company centered on advancing the field of African genomics to unlock scientific discoveries and improve treatment outcomes within Africa and the global community. Founded in 2019, the company generates genetic insights from research studies in the world’s most diverse populations to improve the development, availability and efficacy of therapeutics and diagnostics that will prove beneficial to all populations.