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Nigeria Grapples with Scarcity of ISO-Accredited Labs, Say Health Experts

Health sector stakeholders have raised concerns over the dearth of accredited laboratories in Nigeria, revealing that the nation boasts fewer than 30 ISO-accredited facilities.

These observations came to the forefront during the 25th National Scientific and Annual General Meeting, which revolved around the theme “Nigeria in the Post-COVID Era: Role of Private Medical Laboratories in Surveillance of Emerging, Re-emerging Infectious and Non-communicable Diseases.” The event, hosted in Lagos, was organized by the Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors (GMLD) and featured key figures such as Dr. Elochukwu Adibo, National President of GMLD; Professor Kolawole Oyedeji, Head of the Department of Medical Laboratory Science at the University of Lagos (UNILAG); and Dr. Tosan Erabor, Registrar of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria.

The experts divulged that out of the limited pool of 30 accredited laboratories, merely 14 have obtained accreditation from the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN). This revelation raises concerns, considering Nigeria’s substantial population of nearly 200 million people.

Accreditation, the experts emphasized, is pivotal for ensuring the delivery of high-quality and competent services. Additionally, it plays a critical role in bolstering preparedness for medical emergencies, particularly during outbreaks of infectious diseases. The stakeholders fervently encouraged other laboratories to seek accreditation to enhance healthcare standards across the nation.

Dr. Elochukwu Adibo, the National President of GMLD, underscored the importance of readiness and responsiveness in the face of emergencies, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a stark example of the perils of unpreparedness. He emphasized the role of scientists in continuous surveillance, using scientific methodologies and established processes to monitor diseases.

Dr. Adibo stated, “We must keep on with surveillance using scientific formulas and laid-down processes to monitor diseases. We want to see that infrastructure processes and policies accumulated in what we call quality management systems that are internationally standardized with ISO 15189 are continuously practised.”

Key components of these practices include infection and prevention control mechanisms. He urged laboratories to diligently adhere to these standards to safeguard their personnel and prepare for potential crises.

Professor Kolawole Oyedeji of UNILAG urged practitioners to embrace surveillance measures in tracking emerging and re-emerging diseases, emphasizing the importance of a proactive approach to healthcare.

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