Yellow Fever FG solicits WHO’s support on establishment of regional laboratory

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, made the appeal during the exit press briefing by WHO Director-General, Dr Tedro Ghebreyesus, on Friday in Abuja.

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A Congolese health worker prepares to vaccinate a resident against yellow fever outside a church in Gombe district of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Ross play A Congolese health worker prepares to vaccinate a resident against yellow fever outside a church in Gombe district of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Ross
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The Federal Government has appealed to World Health Organisation (WHO) to establish reference laboratory in Nigeria to reduce time interval between detection and response to yellow fever epidemic in Nigeria.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, made the appeal during the exit press briefing by WHO Director-General, Dr Tedro Ghebreyesus, on Friday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Nigeria hosts the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Policy Group (GPG) meeting recently.

The GPG membership is made up of the Director-General, Deputy Director-General, six Regional Directors and the Executive Director of the WHO Emergencies Programme.

Adewole urged WHO to establish the laboratory in the country so that Nigeria would not have to take samples to Senegal for confirmation.

He noted that Nigeria was half of West Africa and about a quarter of Africa, adding that having a reference laboratory in the country was something worth doing.

The minister said the laboratory would help Nigeria to reduce the time interval between detection and response, when established.

“When we have to wait for Senegal to give us feedback, we might have suffered a delay of sometimes two weeks and that is not helpful.

“We look forward to having a regional yellow fever laboratory in Nigeria, we will set up zonal laboratories in the country that will feed into the regional laboratory,’’ he said.

The minister, therefore, commended the director-general for honouring Nigeria and bringing the global policy group meeting into the country.

He said the meeting would add impetus into whatever the ministry was doing.

“There is synergy between the WHO’s programmes on attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and what Nigeria is doing to attain UHC, that gladdens us,’’ he said.

The WHO director-general congratulated Nigeria on its commitment to UHC and the country’s focus on strengthening primary healthcare centres.

“I am glad to see that Nigeria is giving serious attention to reaching universal healthcare. There’s no single path to UHC.

“All countries must find their own way, but the foundation everywhere must be a strong health system based on primary care, with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion,” he said.

NAN also reports that during his four-day visit to Nigeria, Ghebreyesus met with Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and visited the Kuchigoro Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Abuja.

The Kuchigoro PHC was the first to be revitalised in January 2017 under the government’s plan to refurbish 10,000 PHCs throughout the country.

The Kuchigoro facility provides a range of basic services including antenatal care, family planning, HIV prevention, nutrition, treatment of endemic diseases and has laboratory services which can detect tuberculosis.

The director-general was accompanied by the senior leadership of WHO, including the Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who reiterated the organisation’s support for Nigeria’s efforts.

Ghebreyesus participated in the launch of a new name for the fund, which took place at the Healthcare Policy Dialogue and also visited IDP camps in Maiduguri, Borno.

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