By Chikwe Azoma
The Lagos State Level 3 Biosafety Laboratory also known as the Lagos Biobank built by the State Government with support from the Canadian government to ensure effective management of infectious diseases has fully commenced operation and has started receiving samples, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said.
Abayomi who disclosed this in Lagos during his visit to the facility located within the premises of the Mainland Hospital, Yaba which is the Lagos Infectious Disease Hospital said the facility has the capacity to process, rapidly identify and store samples of infectious diseases such as Ebola, Lassa Fever, novel Coronavirus amongst others.
“With this facility, which is the highest and most functional biosafety, biobanking laboratory in Nigeria and West Africa, Lagos is prepared to tackle and contain any possible outbreak of emerging infectious diseases, novel and highly infectious pathogens”, he stated.
The Commissioner noted that prior to the commencement of operation of the biobank, series of trainings were organized for the team of experts that will manage the facility. He stressed that the trainings which started about two years ago is part of the one-health and biosecurity strategy to build the biobank staff capacity in readiness for possible disease outbreak.
“As part of these series of capacity building, officials from the Public Health England recently trained staff of the Biobank on how to identify novel and highly infectious pathogens. This training is in line with building a resilient health system that can withstand the shocks of any possible disease outbreak and in readiness for the formal opening of the facility scheduled for February”, Abayomi said.
The Commissioner who also inspected other facilities at Mainland Hospital including infectious disease wards, isolation wards, quarantine units and proposed sites for expansion of isolations wards and mini emergency operation centre expressed satisfaction at the level preparedness of the infectious disease hospital and the bio-security unit for possible disease outbreak.
He noted that the Biobank is part of the new biosecurity unit located at the infectious disease hospital adding that a section of the hospital will be renovated and expanded in accordance with the improved prototype design for health facilities to increase capacity for quality and efficient healthcare.
Abayomi while giving an update on the level of preparedness of Lagos State against the raging novel Corona Virus in South East Asia and Lassa fever outbreak in some states in Nigeria disclosed that the Ministry of Health is working closely with other agencies of the Federal Government including National Centre for Disease Control and Ports Health to strengthen surveillance in the State.
In his words “we are in touch with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in Abuja to align our strategies, we are also collaborating with the Federal Port Authority at air, land and sea border posts to elevate screening and surveillance of incoming travellers”.
The Commissioner urged citizens to adopt and practice high standard of personal and environmental hygiene including regular hand washing, covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing as well as practicing good biosecurity precautions with domestic and wild animals as measures against the transmission of any kind of contagious infection and pathogens.