Only 7 medical laboratories in Nigeria have international accreditation – USP

From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

Director, Laboratory Program Group, Global Health and Manufacturing Services (GHMS), United States Pharmacopoeia Convention (USP), Ademola Adekoya, on Thursday said Nigeria has only seven medical laboratories in Nigeria that have international accreditations.

He made the disclosure at the official presentation of ISO 15189 laboratory accreditation certificate to the Access to Basic Medical (ABC) Care Foundation for its ABC Diagnostic Laboratory, by Adeoyo State Hospital, off Ring Road, Ibadan, Oyo State. The ABC Foundation was founded in 2012 by the former First Lady of the state, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi.

Adekoya spoke in the presence of former Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole; the incumbent Minister of Health (State), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Director General, National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye; Chief Executive Officer/Director General, NiNAS, Dr. Celestine Okanya; and other dignitaries at the ceremony.

According to him, “As at 2017, there were 5,349 medical laboratories in Nigeria. I am sure they are more than that now. But that was the only data I could reference. However, there are less than 10, with international accreditation as per ISO 15189-2012 medical laboratory requirements for quality and competence. ABC is the third to be accredited by the Nigerian National Accreditation Services (NiNAS), and ABC is the second international accredited laboratory in Oyo State.”

Adekoya, however, mentioned the laboratories with international accreditation to include National Institute of Medical Research Laboratory, 445 Nigerian Air Force Hospital Laboratory, Clina Lancet Laboratory, El-lab Laboratory, Total Healthcare Diagnostics and ABC Diagnostic Laboratory.

Chief Executive Officer/Director General, NiNAS, Dr. Celestine Okanya, noted that the international accreditation has made it possible that results from ABC Diagnostic Laboratory to be acceptable in every part of the world because international accreditation is the same.

The initiator of ABC Foundation, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, who acknowledged the support of her late husband and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, said the birth of ABC Foundation was a burden in her heart.

“The desire to see people enjoy quality healthcare was my motivation and that still drives us. Our drive and commitment to provide equitable, accessible, and quality health services for all and sundry in Oyo State and its environs lesbua to embark on this inspiring journey that has seen us touch lives and make quality healthcare available and affordable to all,” she stated.

Minister of Health (State), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, also noted that as at the time COVID-19 came to the country in 2020, Nigeria had only three laboratories with capacity to test for the virus, adding that the government had to build more laboratories and also collaborate with the private sector to have more.

“As at July 2021, there are 138 laboratories with the capacity to diagnose COVID-19 in Nigeria and 54 of these private laboratories. The engagement of private laboratories at the peak of the crisis would not have been possible if these laboratories did not have required quality standards and competence. The COVID-19 experience further underscored the need for stronger public private partnerships in the health diagnosis.

“The ABC public health laboratory is one of less than 10 laboratories in Nigeria with the ISO 15189 award. Now, this should give you a sense of pride. It is also a stark reminder that we have a long journey ahead in strengthening medical and public health laboratories science capacity in Nigeria.

“It has been said that Nigeria has over 5,000 laboratories and less than 10 of these have this accreditation. So, we have a long way to go. It is a challenge for us in the Ministry of Health. Of course, Ministry of Health can not do it alone, and that is why this private partnership is encouraged,” Mamora said.

Former Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, who chaired the occasion, noted that laboratories services constitute a part of modern medicine and healthcare, saying: “They play crucial roles in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases in patients. We need laboratory diagnosis to make diagnosis. There are certain diseases that without medical laboratory facilities, you cannot been make a diagnosis. These diseases include HIV infections, diabetes mellitus, cancer, and so on. So, the laboratory is very crucial and I want to thank you ma for considering it top priority to have this laboratory.

“In the United States of America, it was established that about 70 per cent of diagnosis made would have to rely on laboratory assessments. In other words, without the labs, 70 per cent of the cases cannot not really go far. In the United Kingdom with the population of about 50million people, 500million tests are done yearly, and that is about 10 tests per person. This goes to show that tests are very important when we are offering treatment.

“The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States estimated that 14billion tests are done annually in the country. So, tests are quite important to make diagnosis, to follow up treatment, and also to detect recurrence of diseases. This is why this lab is very important.

“In Africa, we are far behind because quality laboratory services are not available. Therefore, having a quality lab in place, to me, is a major effort, in reposition healthcare in this part of the world.”

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Adeyeye, also said: “Having an ISO certification for a medical lab is a result of deliberate embracing of quality culture in the operation of the ABC Lab. Quality and competence requirement is an international standard that specifies the quality management system (QMS). The standard was developed by the International Organisation for Standardization’s Technical Committee.”

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