Yellow Fever: Nigeria to have WHO-approved reference laboratory next year – NPHCDA

Nigeria will soon have a World Health Organisation (WHO) approved reference laboratory, an official has said.

The laboratory would be used for, among others, confirmation of tests of epidemic diseases in the country.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (), Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this in Abuja on Monday.

He spoke at a press briefing on Elimination of Epidemics (EYE) strategy on the current campaign against suspected outbreak in Edo State.

“We are prioritising it. But no matter how difficult it is to set up a laboratory, it makes no sense that with all the human and material resources we have in Nigeria, we have to go to Dakar for confirmation,” the boss said.

Mr Shuaib said the rot in the Nigerian health sector over the last few decades prevented the country from producing vaccines.

“There used to be a time that we were producing vaccine in Nigeria. Now we don’t produce any vaccine in Nigeria again. These are the problems we have with successive governments that have not prioritised technology,” he said.

Mr Shuaib said the government has a board in place focused on local vaccine production and will ensure the production of vaccines resumes in the country within the shortest possible time.

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He said the plan for a reference laboratory in the country will be implemented within the next six months.

“The federal government has prioritised the set up of this mechanism to ensure that we get a reference laboratory.

“With NPHCDA working with (National Centre for Disease Control), it is something we are committed to make happen. There should be no excuses, no reasons why Nigeria should not be confirming yellow fever cases in Nigeria,” he said.

He said Nigeria is targeting 90 per cent immunisation coverage through the mass campaign programme.

While noting that 21 states are classified as high risk, Mr Shuaib said that the country has enough stock of preventive vaccines against yellow fever.

He stressed that the goal of the yellow fever preventive mass vaccination campaign is to “reduce yellow fever transmission. ”

He said the ongoing campaign is the third in line of the government’s efforts towards achieving

total coverage of the country.

He assured the general public that all the agencies involved were working swiftly to contain the spread and prevent further outbreaks of the disease.

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The had earlier confirmed the outbreak of yellow fever in Edo State.

Executive Director of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the outbreak was reported in four local government areas.

“On the 21st of November 2018, nine cases tested positive for yellow fever. We await confirmatory results from the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory,” he said.

Nigeria, one of the 27 countries in Africa with high risks of yellow fever, sends tests for suspected diseases to the WHO reference laboratory for in Dakar, Senegal for confirmation.

Yellow fever is a vaccine-preventable disease.

After 21 years of silence, the disease resurfaced in the country in September 2017 in a seven-year-old girl at Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.

The girl had no previous history of yellow fever vaccination. She also had no travel history outside her state two years before the illness.

As of November 11, 140 cases had been laboratory-confirmed in Nigeria.

A multi-agency yellow fever Emergency Operations Centre has been established at NCDC to coordinate the response.

The symptoms of yellow fever include yellowness of the eyes, sudden fever, headache and body pain.

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