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FG adds new laboratories for yellow fever, measles, rubella response

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The Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced the inclusion of three new laboratories into the national yellow fever/measles/rubella laboratory network.

The new laboratories are the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu and NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.

Nigeria, in 2017, adapted the Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy – a global initiative led by World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in order to support vulnerable countries in strengthening their surveillance and laboratory capacity to respond to yellow fever cases and outbreaks.

The strategy is also to support countries including Nigeria, in the elimination of yellow fever outbreaks. Towards achieving the goals in the EYE strategy, Nigeria has increased the number of laboratories with the capacity to test for yellow fever. These laboratories, which are located across the geo-political zones and will serve the country are: University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo State: South-South States; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu State: South-East States; NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa, Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Maitama District Hospital, FCT: North-Central States; Yusuf Dansoho Memorial Hospital, Kaduna: North-West States; Central Public Health Laboratory, Lagos: South-West States.

Meanwhile, the NCDC National Reference Laboratory is also working towards full accreditation to serve as reference laboratory for yellow fever. Announcing the inclusion of the laboratories, the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said: “To build Nigeria’s capacity in line with global standards, we are officially activating three new laboratories, a necessary addition to our existing laboratory network for yellow fever, measles and rubella. These laboratories are also part of the global WHO laboratory network. The new laboratories in Edo, Enugu and the FCT will improve our coverage and ensure timely detection and response’

Representing the tertiary institutions, the Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Prof. Darlington Obaseki stated that he is grateful for the inclusion of UBTH in this important laboratory network. He pledged to ensure that the standards required are maintained for full functionality.

The Chief Medical Director, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Dr. Obinna Onodugo also expressed his optimism in the value that the laboratory will provide in serving the South-East region of the country and reducing dependence on other laboratories. The Officer-In-Charge of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Clement Peter Lasuba reiterated the commitment of WHO and partners to support the strengthening of Nigeria’s public health laboratory, noting that the inclusion of the three laboratories will strengthen the national diagnostic capacity, which he said is a critical step for Nigeria’s health security.

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