By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government has formally opened a newly constructed centre for infectious disease control located within the premises of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja.
Speaking at the commissioning and hand over of the centre, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the commissioning marked a significant step towards strengthening of the country’s capacity to manage infectious diseases and respond to outbreaks in Nigeria.
He said with completion of the centre, Nigeria can now manage highly pathogenic infectious disease cases, including critical medical and laboratory equipment.
He said the project commenced over a year ago, as part of the commitment of the federal government to provide the necessary infrastructure and resources for infectious disease management, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Ehanire said with laboratory testing and case management in one location, there is much shorter time between sample collection and infection confirmation, which ensures early initiation of treatment and thus mitigate mortality during infectious disease outbreaks.
According to the minister, when the COVID-19 pandemic began at the beginning of this year, this centre was about half completed.
“I am very proud that today, we now have an international standard centre where we can manage highly pathogenic infectious disease cases, including critical medical and laboratory equipment,” he said.
The minister said that University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada was one of the first centres that took on the challenge of managing COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
“I want to expressly commend all the health workers who have sustained the response over the past eight months, you are true heroes.
“The establishment of this purpose-built infectious disease treatment centre will go a long way towards improving our capacity to respond to all infectious diseases.
“The improvement of health security infrastructure does not stop in the Federal Capital Territory. We are also working with other states to establish purpose-built treatment centres that will ensure we are better prepared for infectious disease outbreaks. Our goal is to have at least one standard centre like this every state”.
“I am pleased to also be commissioning two other facilities in this hospital today: the Accident and Emergency Unit which is a 32-bed unit with an intensive care unit (ICU), radiology suite, dialysis unit, fully equipped dedicated operating theatre and oxygen supply; and the Cardiology Unit with full complement of facilities for non-invasive procedures including a state-of-the-art 4D echocardiograph,” he said.
Ehanire also laid a foundation stone for the Mental Health Block , a 76-bed block which, when completed, will have facilities for specialised therapies; an emergency area; consulting, psychotherapy and seminar rooms; and a pharmacy.