The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has disclosed one of its biggest challenges in scaling up of COVID-19 test across the country.

NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed that the body’s biggest challenge in scaling up testing in Nigeria was the maintenance of laboratories for testing COVID-19.

He lamented that maintenance of medical equipment was one of NCDC’s biggest challenges.

Ihekweazu disclosed that most laboratory equipment worth millions in both naira and dollars could not be used due problems which needed to be repaired.

The NCDC DG, who spoke during the presidential task force on COVID-19 daily briefing in Abuja, said it had to train two biomedical engineers.

Ihekweazu said the two biomedical engineers were trained by some NCDC’s partners in Japan.

Following their training, the NCDC DG said the two trained biomedical engineers are helping to facilitate the reactivation of laboratories across the country.

According to Ihekweazu, “The maintenance of medical equipment is one of the biggest challenges we have. We are focusing on the laboratory side but anybody working in the health space will tell you the challenges that we have with very expensive pieces of medical equipment are that they often break down for one small problem and that is a challenge that we are trying to solve.

“When we came into the NCDC four years ago, we realised that there were several pieces of laboratory equipment lying across the country that were not functioning.

“This may be because of one small problem. Therefore, equipment worth millions of Naira, sometimes Dollars, are being wasted. So we started looking for how to train our biomedical engineers.

“We found a partner in a Japanese international cooperation agency and they started supporting us specifically in this regard. We have now trained two biomedical engineers over 6 months in Japan. Japan is well known worldwide for their capacity for things like this. These two colleagues are leading a lot of the efforts on the equipment side of activating labs.

This is coming at a time President Muhammadu Buhari extended the gradual ease of lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun States respectively.

Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, made the disclosure in Abuja.


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