Call Governor Bello to Order now, NMA Tells Buhari


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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the Kogi State Government to allow the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) unfettered access to do what was necessary to help contain COVID-19 in the state.

On the same day, 387 new case of Coronavirus were recorded yesterday in Nigeria, taking the tally to 9302, with 261 deaths and 2,697 patients discharged

This is as the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) yesterday warned against use of non-validated rapid diagnostic test kits in the country. It said that so far no rapid diagnostic test kit had met the standard certification for use in testing for COVID-19 or any infectious disease in Nigeria.

In a letter to President Buhari, NMA President, Dr. Francis Faduyile said that the move had become necessary because two indigenes of Kogi State were recently confirmed COVID-19 positive.

It said given the fact that Kogi State borders 11 other states of the federation and Lokoja, the state capital, a significant road transport interchange, there was the need to ensure safety and protection of citizens from COVID-19 infection now than ever before.

“The Association, therefore, appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the State Governor and his officials to order immediately. He may issue an order granting unfettered access and protection to NCDC officials into Kogi State and do all that is necessary to contain COVID-19 which we believe is gaining a serious foothold in the state.

“This order may include siting testing facilities in the Army Barracks or any secure location free from the encumbrances posed by the State government,” it said.

The medical laboratory scientists while presenting approved guidelines for private sector medical laboratory participation in the testing for COVID-19 virus, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of MLSCN, Tosan Erhabor said that none of the four variants of the rapid diagnostic test kits that so far scaled initial hurdle for validation had met the required standards.

He said: “We are using this opportunity to caution against the use non-validated test kits for covid-19 testing in Nigeria as this will attract sanctions in accordance with the law.”

Erhabor said that the council would henceforth employ the services of security agencies to fish out all those behind the importation and marketing of rapid test kits without validation by MLSCN.

Federal government had insisted that it would only recognise tests conducted at the molecular laboratory which had been endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its accuracy and reliability.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu also raised the alarm last Wednesday that substandard rapid diagnostic test kits had now flooded the black market across the country.

Speaking on the outcome of the pre-market validation of covid-19 rapid test kits, carried out by the council, Erhabor said that out of the seven Antibody based rapid test kits submitted by the manufacturers or their representatives, only four met validation inclusion criteria.

He said that the validation of the nine Polymerase chain reaction based kits and Antigen based rapid test kits were ongoing.

Erhabor explained that the four rapid test kits that had scaled the prequalification hurdle, there were not approved for the purposes of diagnosis and surveillance of SARS-covid-2 infection in Nigeria.

“They are therefore not approved for marketing in Nigeria. No SARS-2 rapid test kits are currently approved for use in Nigeria, “ he said.

On the guideline for the participation of private sector medical laboratories in covid-19 testing. Erhabor said MLSCN in collaboration with NCDC would grant approval in accordance with the guidelines.

He said that the laboratory guidelines had been posted at the council’s website.

One of the key aspects of the guidelines, is that such a private laboratory must provide evidence of implementation of quality management system to demonstrate the ability to produce accurate result.

The laboratory test should be offered only when prescribed as, per NCDC national guidelines on covid-19 case definition.

Also the private laboratory must show evidence of biosafety and biosecurity precautions.