National Committee on Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development of NMA, has urged the Federal Government and designated authorities to establish at least one COVID-19 Testing laboratory in all the states of the federation.
Prof Titus Ibekwe, Chairman of the committee who gave the advice in a telephone interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Abuja, said that such measure would give succour to the populace and reduce pressure on the six available centres at present.
The chairman said, “the country should aim at a minimum of one test centre per state for a start before scaling up to multiples, this way we can achieve desirable level of decentralisation and testing across the country”.
He noted that it costs about N150 million to set up a standard test laboratory for Severe Acute Respiratory Symptom (SARS)- Corona 2- testing, and emphasised that one billion naira was capable of procuring six standard laboratories for Nigeria.
According to him, it is not rocket science but doable considering the need and also supportive funding from philanthropists so far toward fighting the pandemic in Nigeria.
“The able leadership of NCDC should take care of the technicalities such as Biosafety levels and human capacities needed for this to work.
“It is instinctive to note that they can select suitable centres from the 70 Teaching Hospitals,22 Federal Medical Centres and about 20,000 Central and General Hospitals across the country including some Excellent Private Laboratories,” he said.
Ibekwe described COVID-19 as “an equal opportunity disease” which is pervasive, most contagious, virulent and knows no bounds adding that only a deliberate and well coordinated strategy can arrest the pandemic’.
“Considering the growing pandemic, if we must fight the virus to a stand still more testing centres will be required, at least one in every state of the federation.
“We should aim at minimum of a test centre per state for a start before scaling up to multiples.This way we shall achieve desirable levels of decentralisation and testing across the country.
“If we channel most donations toward setting up one test centre in every state of the federation for a start that will give succour and confidence to the populace.
“But with the current six testing centres across the county two in Lagos and one each in Abuja, Ede and Irrua credible impact cannot be made since it takes an average of 48 to 72 hours to turn in the results.
“It is even worse in FCT, the only test centre for Northern Nigeria. The announcement on plans for establishment of about six additional new test centres is cheering but still inadequate,” Ibekwe said.
Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Ekemini Ladejobi