The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and the Ekiti State Government, with funding from the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing facility through the Nigeria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project commissioned NCDC’s first Zonal Reference Laboratory (ZRL) in the country in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
Director General of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa announced the development in a statement issued on Wednesday, January 8, 2023.
Adetifa, explained that the NCDC was mandated by law to develop a network of highly specialised reference laboratories across the nation to contribute to national health security.
He said, this was aligned with Nigeria’s obligations under International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) and recommendations from Nigeria’s 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE).
He added that the NCDC’s implementation of its tiered laboratory network was intended to establish an effective network of testing laboratories for diseases of public health
The NCDC Czar further highlighted the benefits of the new reference laboratory to include facilitating sample transportation, reducing turnaround time for testing and release of results among others:
“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 our emergency and preparedness efforts at the subnational level.
“This newly commissioned Ekiti ZRL will strengthen diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases in Nigeria, with a particular focus on the six states within the South-west region: Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, and Ogun and the whole of southern Nigeria at large.
“The laboratory is equipped to diagnose priority diseases as part of our Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system. The laboratory will be the primary hub for the timely and accurate diagnosis of epidemic and epidemic-prone diseases constituting public health threats in the South-west” ,he said.
The NCDC also disclosed that, as part of taking forward lessons learnt from the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Nigeria, the NCDC successfully designated and commenced the establishment of Zonal
Reference Laboratories (ZRLs) across the 6 geopolitical zones which were at various stages of completion.
Consequently, he explained that the ZRLs would contribute to outbreak preparedness and response, provide a
wider geographic diagnostic coverage for epidemic and epidemic-prone diseases, and support the implementation of quality management systems including national and international accreditation of laboratories in NCDC’s network.
This ZRL project, Adetifa stated, was one of the efforts by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health through the NCDC to consolidate COVID-19 investments and further enhance outbreak preparedness and response effort.