COVID-19: UK Govt Funds PCR Machine to Speed up NCDC Testing

June 22, 2020
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*Representative of the British High Commissioner, Mr. Karl Holmes; Immunisation Team Lead and current Officer-in-Charge of WHO Nigeria, Dr Fiona Braka; and Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, flanked by other staff of the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) during the handover of a PCR Machine in Lagos, on Monday, June 22, 2020.

On Sunday 21 June, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) unveiled a brand new Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, which has been procured using some of the £661,000 UKAid funding commitment that the British Government has made to the Nigeria branch of the World Health Organisation this year.

The PCR machine, which is the most accurate laboratory method for detecting, tracking and studying the coronavirus, will enhance the NCDC’s COVID-19 testing capabilities in Nigeria, increasing the nation’s capacity to carry out at least 3,000 tests per day.

The machine was presented to the NCDC Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, and the Immunisation Team Lead and current Officer-in-Charge of WHO Nigeria, Dr Fiona Braka, at the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) a campus of the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Lagos on Monday.

The UK government and the Federal Government of Nigeria have been collaborating closely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria since January 2020.  The UK has been working closely with authorities across Nigeria, including the NCDC, to support preparedness, planning and wider public health response efforts to contain the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, the UK’s response is aligned with the Government of Nigeria’s efforts at both the National and State levels.  The UK has been supporting Nigerian authorities with technical assistance, direct financing and by flexing our existing health portfolio to help with Nigeria’s preparedness, planning and public health response at both the national and local level to respond, combat and curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the donation of the PCR machine, to the NCDC, the British High Commissioner representative at the event, Karl Holmes said:

“The procurement of this new PCR machine complements the UK Government’s ongoing financial and technical support to Nigeria for the provision of diagnostic reagents and consumables, Biosafety training and certifications through our International Health Regulations (lHR) Strengthening Project led by Public Health England. 

We hope this machine and other support will contribute to the wider efforts to strengthen testing in Nigeria.  These efforts have been steadily expanding over the last few weeks and we welcome this progress. The UK remains committed to continuing our support to this and other pillars of the response.”

Also speaking, the NCDC DG said:

“We are glad to be getting such huge support and technical advice from our partners including the UK Governments’ Department for International Development (DFID). 

This new PCR Machine, which is a small part of our bigger testing strategy, will help us in driving towards our goal to test over 2 million people over the next three months. This laboratory will now be able to play an even bigger role to help us meet this target.”  

The UK government commends the efforts by all partners to respond to the COVID -19 pandemic so far. We look forward to continuing our work in partnership with our government and international colleagues to address this outbreak as swiftly as possible and ensure health and prosperity for Nigerians and particularly for those who are most vulnerable and at risk.

 

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