Monkeypox: No US-controlled Laboratories in Nigeria, Says Embassy

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

United States government has denied allegations regarding the use of US-assisted Nigerian laboratories in the spread of monkeypox in Nigeria

In a statement signed by the Information Specialist, Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the US Consulate General in Nigeria, Temitayo Famutimi, the embassy described as wrong and misleading recent posts on social media speculating on the origin of the current global outbreak of monkeypox disease, and urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to investigate alleged role of the “US-controlled laboratories” in Nigeria.  

It said such reports were pure fabrication.

“There is zero merit to any allegations regarding the use of U.S.-assisted Nigerian laboratories in the spread of monkeypox.  Furthermore, there are no U.S.-controlled laboratories in Nigeria. 

“These falsehoods detract from the work that the United States, in close coordination with Nigerian and multilateral partners, accomplish together on public health, including in disease surveillance, diagnosis, prevention, and control,” it added.

While dismissing the allegations, the embassy said the collaborative work between Nigeria and the United States had provided opportunities for technical assistance in capacity building, equipment, commodities/consumables, and funding to critical public health program, hospitals and laboratories. 

“All of this contributes greatly to the prevention and amelioration of global disease outbreaks. 

“Monkeypox is not a new disease, nor is it unique to Nigeria or this region, having first been diagnosed in 1970 in the DRC.  As we work together to contain its spread, exported cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, United States, and other parts of the world,” it said. 

 The embassy said the United States government would continue to lend its support and work closely with the government of Nigeria in responding to the Monkeypox outbreak.

It said through the collaborative interventions, US government agencies working in Nigeria (including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Program) and their implementing partners have supported both national and state laboratories with technical assistance and funding. 

“These laboratories are Nigerian, and U.S. support enables them to provide essential services for the public good and the health of Nigeria’s citizens. “Especially important, our support to laboratories across the country extends to quality improvements that ensure they have appropriate levels of biosafety and biosecurity requirements in place.  

“We will continue to collaborate with the Nigerian government on the ongoing global monkeypox and COVID-19 outbreaks and intensify support to Nigeria in other areas on which we have proudly partnered over the years, such as HIV epidemic control, tuberculosis eradication, malaria elimination, prevention of vaccine-preventable disease, and enhancing food and nutrition,” it added.  

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had on Sunday, declared emergency measures against the outbreak of Monkeypox in the country.

In a statement issued at the weekend, the NCDC had said as at  May 29, 2022, a total of 21 confirmed cases with one death were reported from 9 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT .

It gave details of reported cases as, Adamawa (5), Lagos (4), Bayelsa (2), Delta (2), Cross River (2), FCT (2), Kano (2), Imo (1), Rivers (1).

According to NCDC, one death was reported in a 40-year-old patient who had underlying co-morbidity and was on immunosuppressive medications.

NCDC said that genomic surveillance is ongoing at NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and so far all of the cases have been confirmed to be caused by West Africa clade Monkeypox virus.

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