The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it is increasing the number of laboratories to enhance capacity for response to outbreak of infectious disease.
The Director General NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed this in an interview with the press in Abuja.
Ihekweazu said that laboratory information was critical for infectious disease surveillance and its control.
“Before an outbreak, laboratory-supported surveillance allows early detection of cases. During an outbreak, sample of cases will be taken to the laboratory for tests to assess changes in the etiological agent and to guide decisions about the allocation of resources,” he explained.
The NCDC boss said that laboratory information must be accurate, timely and subjected to quality assurance procedures for response to outbreaks.
He said that the centre had continued to work closely with stakeholders toward improving knowledge on infectious diseases through research activities and epidemiological studies.
“One of these efforts is the collaboration with the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), to identify other pathogens that may be causing illnesses similar to Lassa fever,” he said.
The NCDC boss shared the vision and priorities of the centre, especially in strengthening the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP) which, he said, was fully integrated within the NCDC.
According to him, NFELTP has remained an avenue for building the capacity of public health professionals and leaders in the field of epidemiology.
Ihekweazu stated that the centre, supported by the Robert Koch Institute, was setting up a sentinel surveillance system for Hepatitis E in Nigeria.
He however, said that the National Reference Laboratory would serve as the central laboratory for Hepatitis E and Rotavirus diagnosis, working with sentinel laboratory in five Nigerian states.
“This means that we will identify sites that will collect samples from patients who present clinical symptoms similar to Hepatitis E, and send to the NCDC National Reference Laboratory for testing and confirmation,” he explained.
He said that another mile stone by the centre with the support from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health was the hosting of a “MiniON” sequencing regional workshop at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory.
The NCDC boss added that the goal of the workshop was to improve the centre’s understanding of pandemic Vibrio Cholerae in selected West African countries.
He said the disease control centre was working with the Dentistry Division of the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners to improve awareness and strengthen the surveillance of “Noma” in Nigeria.