The House of Representative Committee on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has assured the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) of proper funding of its network of laboratories.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Haruna Mshelia (APC-Borno), gave the assurance on Wednesday in Abuja when members of the committee,in company with the Director-General of the NCDC, toured the centre’s reference laboratory in Kaduwa, Abuja.
“Most of the research laboratories in this country will now be properly funded, your laboratories will be further expanded.
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“All other issues that will be thrown up during our discussion this afternoon, I assure you, we will meet with the speaker and ensure that the problems are looked into,” Mshelia noted.
The chairman promised the committee’s commitment to strengthening Nigeria’s diagnostic capacity.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, called for more attention to the health sector, beyond COVID-19.
“Honourable members, we really have to elevate health security on the agenda a little bit in our national discourse.
“We have to deal with COVID-19 in the short term but in the long term, we really need to elevate the issue of health security,” Ihekweazu urged.
According to him, the National Laboratory set up in 2018 currently stores about 40,000 samples of COVID-19 – positive and negative.
“At the beginning of COVID-19 in Nigeria, there were only three laboratories testing for the virus.
At present, there are 60 laboratories testing for the virus across the country,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 18-man committee has the responsibility of ensuring that the operations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 are conducted in line with international best practice.
The committee is to serve as a link between the task force and the National Assembly and, then, the Nigerian people to whom members of the House are answerable.
“It is its responsibility to ensure that citizens: doctors, nurses and all other health workers on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 receive full protection and reward.