The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says it has inaugurated its first-ever Zonal Reference Laboratory in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti capital.
The information is in a statement signed by the NCDC Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He stated that the laboratory was built in collaboration with the Ekiti Government, with funding from the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing facility through the Nigeria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project.
He added that the project was aimed at strengthening the country’s diagnostic capacity.
Adetifa said the agency was mandated by law to develop a network of highly specialised reference laboratories across the nation to contribute to national health security.
The NCDC boss said the establishment of the laboratory was aligned with the country’s obligations under the International Health Regulations -(IHR) 2005, and recommendations from the 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE).
He added that “the NCDC’s implementation of its tiered laboratory network is intended to establish an effective network of testing laboratories for diseases of public health importance.
“The ZRLs will bring services closer to states, facilitate sample transportation, reduce turnaround time for testing and release of results, and contribute to resilience in emergency and preparedness efforts at the subnational level.”
Adetifa also said that the newly inaugurated Ekiti ZRL would strengthen diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases, with particular focus on the six states in the South-West, namely Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Lagos and Ogun, and the whole of southern Nigeria.
He further said that the laboratory is equipped to diagnose priority diseases as part of the Centre’s Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system.
“The laboratory will be the primary hub for timely and accurate diagnosis of epidemic and epidemic-prone diseases constituting public health threats in the South-west,” he said.
The NCDC boss said the centre had successfully designated and commenced the establishment of more Zonal Reference Laboratories across the six geopolitical zones, which were at various stages of completion.
“This is part of efforts to take forward lessons learnt from the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the country”, he said.
Adetifa said the laboratories, when completed, would contribute to outbreak preparedness and response and provide a wider geographic diagnostic coverage.
He said the laboratories would also support the implementation of quality management systems, including national and international accreditation of laboratories in NCDC’s network.