President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government has provided funds for the establishment of laboratories in all Federal tertiary institutions and its research centers.
Buhari said this while speaking at the 2nd Regional Annual Scientific Conference and Induction of Elected Fellows of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS), on Monday, in Abuja.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said with the support of development partners Federal Government has strengthened laboratory capacity in the country than ever before in history.
The President said World Health Organization(WHO) also helped in training Nigerian scientists, improving their capacity to conduct test and get to where the country were today.
He said: “Our monocular laboratory assets has since then increased in both private and public fare. while knowledge and skills, to conduct testing has spread to hundreds of laboratory scientists around the country.
“This rapid and widespread expansion of their diagnostic capacity was one of the advantages and benefits that helped us to manage the COVID-19 pandemic with whatever accuracy we have talked about today and with safety that has come along with it.
“With all the asset we have, with all the training and skills we must dedicate ourselves to productivity to show that we can do more.
“We are going into the academic sequencing research, we have taken first step in trying to produce vaccines. Which was label novel which is a warning that the properties and behaviours were just on folding.
“This means that there is a lot of work to do to know more about it today. We are still grappling with new revelations about this virus some of which surprise us which means we still have a long way to go to use what we understand to protect ourselves.
“We must continue to be alert and provide an opportunity for our scientists to contribute to the body of knowledge on this subject and other subjects.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Health, Ehanire who was represented by the Director of Hospital Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, said the theme of the conference, ‘Improving Global Health by Strengthening Laboratory Capacity in Africa’’ was well chosen.
“At the onset of COVID-19, very few laboratories had capacity to conduct molecular testing, a methodology that has overtaken traditional methods used to identify organisms.
“We could not have effectively managed the pandemic the way we did without increasing the number of laboratories that could detect COVID-19 accurately and in a safe manner.
“As at today, the government has made available funds for the establishment of molecular laboratories in all the Federal tertiary health institutions and research centres. State Governments and Partners have also supported laboratory strengthening in different ways.
“Today we are grappling with COVID-19, we do not know what it will be tomorrow. So we much continue to be battle ready. The government will continue to provide the enabling environment for professionals to work, and the professionals are expected to continue to improve their knowledge and skill.
“This is where the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science needs to play the critical role of ensuring relevant human resource capacity is developed in the West African sub region to compliment efforts of government at strengthening laboratory capacity.”
A Professor of Virology and Educational Administrator, Oyewale Tomori, who Chaired the event, said there was no need to build laboratories if the country would not sustain them.
Tomori said, “it is better for us to have six functional laboratories than having many that are not functional.”
He further said that each state should have a state NCDC, it should not be the responsibility of NCDC to starts running around over pandemics.
“The only time they should be up and doing is when there is an international pandemic,” he added.
The President of West Africa Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science, Prof. Nafiu Amidu, also said that the lessons learnt from COVID- 19 should strengthen the country to equip its health facilities for future challenges.
“We should ensure good laboratory practice. This is a bold step towards of ensuring quality and best practice. The time is right to ensure training so as to meet up with global challenges, “Amidu said.