USCDC Team Visits NCDC National Reference Laboratory

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It has been reported that the United States of America Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC) has sent a team to Nigeria’s National Reference Laboratory; claiming that the delegation is to understudy the nation’s disease outbreak preparedness, detection and response as well as capacity building for Global Health Security. This is a startling and suspicious report based on antecedents. The general perception and understanding is that the Nigerian health system is yet to be regarded as a force in the global sphere; statistics show that the citizens of the nation migrate to the US mostly for better health care. Hence the shock.

The team led by the Director of Global Health Advocacy, United Nations Foundation, Mr Brian Massa, visited the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Abuja on Friday. The Director said: “We are here at the NRL to learn about the great work that the Nigerian government is doing with capacity building for global health security, disease detection, preparedness and response. Nigeria is in line with the IHR core capacities required to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health risks and emergencies. This is as stipulated in Articles five and 13, and Annex one, of the Regulations. This visit will further develop the roster of congressional staffers who work on global health policy. It will help them to understand how bilateral Global Health Security investments in the country have strengthened global health security and pandemic preparedness.”

The Director mentioned that his team noted the laboratory diagnostic facilities, studied the integration and data-sharing of nation-wide disease detection, the nation’s response to the Monkeypox outbreak (although the nation has not recorded any serious monkeypox outbreak), and deliberated on the necessity of a strong health systems. “The USCDC has provided very generous and important support in collaboration with the NCDC to provide training, technical capacity building and to be able to detect diseases early. Through partnerships with the NCDC, the USCDC is improving the quality of critical public health services in the country,” he said.

Explaining why the NRL was the choice stop for the team, the Director-General (DG), NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa said the NRL is the organisation’s main laboratory. He said the NRL supplies High-Quality Public Health Laboratory Services, provides supervision to state public health laboratories and manages laboratory-based surveillance. The DG disclosed that the laboratory has received consumables, reagents, laboratory equipment, and technical support from the American Government through the USCDC and implementing partners. “Over the last several years, the American Congress, supported by the UN Foundation, had organised congressional learning trips to observe global health. The Congress also organised trips to UN peacekeeping, humanitarian, and development operations across the globe, highlighting the US-UN partnership in the field,” he said.

“The delegation included staffers and principal aides of US senators and members of the House of Congress with a task in health services, global health or health security. Visits like this provide us with an opportunity to lay out areas that we may require support, either directly by what we say or indirectly by what they see,” he said.

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