Strengthening Nigeria’s Diagnostic Capacity Through Zonal Reference Laboratories

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

8th February 2023 | Strengthening Nigeria’s Diagnostic Capacity Through Zonal Reference Laboratories

On the 8th of February 2023, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and the Ekiti State Government, with funding from the World Bank's Pandemic Emergency Financing facility through the Nigeria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project commissioned NCDC’s first Zonal Reference Laboratory (ZRL) in the country in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.

The NCDC is mandated by law to develop a network of highly specialised reference laboratories across the nation to contribute to national health security. This is aligned with Nigeria’s obligations under International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) and recommendations from Nigeria’s 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE). The NCDC’s implementation of its tiered laboratory network is intended to establish an effective network of testing laboratories for diseases of public health importance. The ZRLs will bring services closer to States, facilitate sample transportation, reduce turnaround time for testing and release of results, and contribute to resilience in our emergency and preparedness efforts at the subnational level.

This newly commissioned Ekiti ZRL will strengthen diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases in Nigeria, with a particular focus on the six states within the South-west region: Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, and Ogun and the whole of southern Nigeria at large. The laboratory is equipped to diagnose priority diseases as part of our Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system. The laboratory will be the primary hub for the timely and accurate diagnosis of epidemic and epidemic-prone diseases constituting public health threats in the South-west.

As part of taking forward lessons learnt from the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Nigeria, the NCDC has successfully designated and commenced the establishment of Zonal Reference Laboratories (ZRLs) across the 6 geopolitical zones which are at various stages of completion. These ZRLs will contribute to outbreak preparedness and response, provide a wider geographic diagnostic coverage for epidemic and epidemic-prone diseases, and support the implementation of quality management systems including national and international accreditation of laboratories in NCDC’s network. This ZRL project is one of the efforts by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health through the NCDC to consolidate COVID-19 investments and further enhance our outbreak preparedness and response effort as we continue to respond to infectious diseases of public health importance.

About NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission of the NCDC is to protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a One Health approach, guided by research, and led by a skilled workforce.

About the Nigeria CoPREP

On August 6, 2020, the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank approved a grant in the amount of US$ 14.28 million from the Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) facility to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in addition to the credit for the Nigeria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (Nigeria CoPREP). A part of the Multiphase Programmatic Approach (MPA), supported under the Fast-Track COVID-19 Facility (FTCF), the Nigeria CoPREP Project Development Objective (PDO) is “to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 at the state level in Nigeria”. The PEF facility supports three core areas: procurement of equipment for the National Reference Laboratory and six regional laboratories to increase diagnostic capacity; procurement of equipment for 12 purpose-built infectious disease treatment centres to improve case management capabilities of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in 12 States; and procurement of vehicles for disease surveillance and response activities.


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Dr Ifedayo Adetifa

Director General

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

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