One of the 36 States in Nigeria, had been experiencing incessant power outages since 2020, leaving some locations in the state in total darkness, due to the disruption of the power grid caused by insecurity. This has hampered operations at the polio laboratory situated at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).
As part of efforts to provide succor and ensure effective sustenance of a Polio-free Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) , with assistance from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMFG), has donated a 100kva generator to the accredited polio laboratory, in addition to the earlier donated 48 solar panels of 330 watts each, 21 KVA inverters, and 24 tabular batteries. This is to ensure uninterrupted services in the laboratory.
Handing over the generator to the laboratory, the WHO northeast emergency manager, Dr Beatrice Muraguri said, this donation will strategically complement the overall effort of the laboratory especially, increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the lab.
“This will effectively serve the other states that are extremely dependent on this accredited laboratory, especially in analyzing Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) stool samples and environmental samples,” said Dr Muraguri.
In Nigeria, as of the 10th of December, 2022 (week 48) a total of 9,366 AFP and 153 cVDPV2 cases have been reported across 55 LGAs in 17 states. In view of that, it remains imperative to continue the AFP surveillance and sample collection to sustain the gains against wild poliovirus. Also, there is a need to keep up testing to support the fight against the circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus 2 (cVDPV2).
Appreciating the WHO for its unrelenting support to the polio laboratory, Dr Soji Oderinde, Assistant Director of Technical at the Polio laboratory said, this support is just on time because we continue committed to playing our part in ensuring Nigeria remains a polio-free country. “This machine will be handled carefully,” he added.
As one of the two national laboratories in Nigeria, and among the 16 in the African Region, the Polio laboratory was first established in the year 1999 but was subsequently accredited by WHO Regional Office for Africa. The laboratory has continued to play a key role in ensuring the sustenance of a polio-free Nigeria, especially by guaranteeing timely and effective analysis of collected stools, as well as both detection and isolation of environmental samples.
Due to the pivotal role the laboratory plays, it currently serves 10 northern states in Nigeria, including Katsina, Bauchi, Kano, Jos, and Taraba. And from January 2022 – November 2022, there have been *17,323 AFP stool samples analyzed in the laboratory, including *12,764 environmental samples and *12,650 cell cultured.
Reiterating WHO’s support to the laboratory, the country representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo said, “WHO will continue to provide additional support to strengthen the capacity of the laboratory in the fight against poliovirus in Nigeria. We remain committed to supporting the state technically and ensuring essential health services are adequately accessed by all.”
He thanked BMGF for the continuous support to WHO efforts in Nigeria.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Nigeria.