MR Adegoko Dickson, a Lab Scientist living in Abuja on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to develop and maintain national laboratory network in the country.
Dickson, a Molecular Laboratory Lead for American Centre for Disease Control, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said health laboratories were critical components of disease detection, prevention and control, noting, however, that
access to laboratories with accurate, reliable testing results remained limited.
According to him, the challenge contributes to delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, an ineffective and unwarranted treatment that eventually leads to increased cost, even mortality.
He called on medical laboratory scientists to work toward achieving effective, efficient, fast and reliable results in medical laboratory services through deliberate attempts on system strengthening.
The lab scientist disclosed that External Quality Assurance Programme (EQAP) was critical for laboratories to provide high-quality test results.
He explained that “EQAP encompasses investment in building human capacity; investment in building laboratory management systems, infrastructure and management of quality systems; well-written policies and procedures; quality control system, Quality Improvement (QI) and External Quality Assessment (EQA); and accreditation standards.”
Dickson urged laboratory professionals to routinely perform quality control testing to ensure that test methods and equipment were performed according to established standards.
“Laboratory professionals must participate in EQA/proficiency testing programme to demonstrate that acceptable systems are in place, specimens are collected and processed appropriately.
“The role of national health laboratories in support of public health response has expanded beyond laboratory testing to include a number of other core functions such as emergency response, training and outreach, communications, laboratory-based surveillance and data management.
“These functions can only be accomplished by an efficient and resilient national laboratory network, which includes public health, reference, clinical and other laboratories.”
According to him, it is the primary responsibility of the national health laboratory in the Ministry of Health to develop and maintain a national laboratory network in the country.
The lab scientist said “Nigeria implements National Integrated Sample Referral Network NiSRN for HIV viral load, EID, TB and CD4 samples. Over 4,000 ART facilities are linked to 27 PCR and 400 GeneXpert and CD4 laboratories.
“Nigeria has National Reference Laboratories (NRL) and Zonal Reference Laboratories but designed along with specific disease areas- TB, HIV, Lassa and Avian influenza laboratories.
“These specialised laboratories create access to patients who may not have such facilities close to their areas.”
He noted that Lab Network also improves lab optimisation and reduces the cost of test.