The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said it had developed framework that would provide accurate information on quick research management for viral outbreaks.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, made this known at the inauguration of the Lagos State Biobank in Lagos.
The Biobank is a new Biosecurity Laboratory funded by Canada, in partnership with Lagos State.
The laboratory will serve as a single repository for all high-concentration pathogens in the state.
It will also help to mitigate post Ebola virus disease threats and build capacity for prevention, detection and response to future outbreaks in Nigeria and West Africa.
“Following the successful containment of the Ebola outbreak in the state in 2014 and lessons learnt from it, the government set up a committee to design and develop a blueprint for our preparedness and control of emerging biological threats of local and international concerns.
“This (Biobank) is one of the recommendations the committee made.
“The state ministry of health has constituted a management committee to oversee the project and identify relevant staff with requisite skills and experience to constitute the Biobank Biosecurity team,’’ Idris said.
The commissioner said that the biobank would form strategic alliances with key federal institutions such as Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, among others.
He said: “Throughout our benchmark activities, we will ensure our operations in this facility are up to international standards.
“We will endeavour to form long and lasting collaborations with strategic African and international partners.’’
Also, the Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the launch of the facility signified great progress for health security in Nigeria and the West African region.
Ihekweazu said that establishment of the facility would improve the country’s ownership of research around infectious diseases.
According to him, it will also improve national human resource capacity and increase Nigeria’s participation in cutting-edge translational research.
“At NCDC, we currently host a national biorepository at our National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.
“This is being used for the National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, the largest survey on any infectious disease in the country.
“Our goal is to collaborate with public health laboratories in Nigeria and ensure that the biobanks that exist are well coordinated toward the improvement of national and global health security,’’ he said.
Commenting, a Microbiologist, Dr Bamidele Mutiu, said that the new facility would help to identify, detect and recognise any organism rapidly, so that effective clinical management could be instituted as soon as possible.
Mutiu, who is the Director of the newly inaugurated Lagos State Biobank, said: “Before now, for most of the public outbreaks, most often than not, we have to look for different laboratories for the diagnosis.
“But, with the inauguration of the state biobank, it means we will be able to diagnose as soon as possible with rapid turnaround time.
“Also, we will be able to keep in our archive those samples that were isolated so that in case we have another outbreak later in future, we can easily compare their genomic constituents,’’ he said.
The director said that experts would be trained on laboratory safety containment, identification and genomic extraction to meet the health challenge of infectious disease outbreaks.
Also, a Consultant in Public Health, Prof. Akin Oshibogun, said that inauguration of the biobank was a major step in public health in the state and the country at large.
Oshibogun, who was the former Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, said that diagnosis of any disease outbreak was very critical in the control of any disease outbreak.
According to him, the new facility will help to maintain surveillance and be able to make more rapid diagnosis.
“When Ebola broke out in Sierria-Leone, Guinea and Liberia axis, it took them three months to make a diagnosis, because of that, they could not stop the spread of the disease.
“It also took them three years to be able to control the disease.
“Fortunately for us in the state, we were able to make the diagnosis within two days and within two months we were able to control the disease.
“This facility is going to be very functional and useful for us in the country,“ Oshibogun said.
In his remarks, the Medical Director, Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Dr Abimbola Bowale, said that the feat was a good development in terms of helping the hospital to make quick diagnosis.
Bowale said: “Hitherto, whenever we have a suspect who has, for instance, Lassa Fever, or Monkey Pox, we will collect the sample and then we take it to another facilty, maybe a few kilometers away.
“Then, we have to keep calling to know when the result will be out.
“But with a facility like this, it means our samples can be taken and have our results ready on time and be able to make decisions faster.’’