COVID-19: Decentralize Lab Tests – NMA Tells FG


THE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) branch says the Federal Government must urgently decentralize the testing procedures to cope with the increasing cases of coronavirus pandemic outbreak in Nigeria.

According to the NMA, allowing other laboratories to handle tests for coronavirus has become imperative in the overall health interest and safety of the Nigerian people.

It argued that by unbundling the workload on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which has the sole responsibility of testing and confirming COVID-19 cases in the country, government would ensure the turn around time for tests of the virus is enhanced.

The body, in a communique signed by the branch Chairman, NMA Executive council, FCT Chapter, Dr. Philip Ekpe, insisted that “the NCDC should be unbundled with regards to laboratory testing and approval granted by Federal Ministry of Health for facilities with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to conduct the testing.

“This is to decentralise testing in order not to lose probable cases to the community and reduced waiting time for confirmation.”

It said with the progressive growth of Covid-19 cases in FCT indicating that 90 per cent of the confirmed cases are returning travellers to the country, there is an urgent need to address the turn around time for laboratory testing which is currently “high due to the overburdening of NCDC and scarce human resources.”

The body also called for increased awareness and sensitization in the FCT suburbs and rural areas about the COVID-19 infection, noting that; there is poor adherence to social distancing in the FCT, especially around the suburbs and rural communities.

Furthermore, the branch expressed concerns about the paucity of protective equipment, including facemasks, hand sanitizers and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as well as inadequate designated isolation centres to handle a possible explosion of the Coronavirus outbreak in he nation’s capital.

The Association therefore urged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to grant facilities with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines to conduct the testing; provide life insurance to all volunteers; provide steady water and electricity supply to all hospitals for effective infection prevention and control, as well as enforce a two to four weeks lockdown in the FCT and its environs

In appreciating the Federal Government’s efforts at containing the COVID-19 outbreak nationwide, the NMA canvassed that free and subsidized facemask, hand sanitizers and PPEs be made available to health workers and members of the public.

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