Nasarawa State Government and Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of a world class research laboratory for viral epidemics.
The signing of the MoU took place at the state Ministry of Health in Lafia on Thursday with various health stakeholders in attendance.
Dr Daniel Iya, the state Commissioner for Health, expressed joy over the establishment of the centre and the partnership with IHVN.
He said that when the laboratory is fully operational, the centre would go a long way to make accurate diagnosis and prognosis on diseases like Lassa fever and other epidemics.
“To make a diagnosis, we have to take a sample of blood to Iruwa, Edo, which is the nearest facility around.
“We believe that a state having this facility will help us a lot in making accurate diagnosis, laboratory confirmation.
“It will go a long way in helping us improve prognosis on diseases as Lassa fever and other epidemics,” he said.
He said the establishment of the centre, which would be located in Lafia, would strengthen the state’s fight against viral diseases.
He appealed for a sustained close partnership with IHVN and other health stakeholders to successfully fight epidemics in the state.
“I believe that this watershed project will have an impactful positive bearing not only in Nasarawa state but in Nigeria as a whole.
“I therefore say this categorically that the state government is very committed to this project,” he said.
Dr Patrick Dakum, the Chief Executive Officer, IHVN, said the institute would be providing the technical support to ensure that the centre meets all accreditation standards.
“Secondly, the capacity building for those to be working in this place will require high end training.
“Therefore the IHVN will ensure that this is carried on. I believe that this project is due to the longstanding collaboration we had with the Nasarawa government,” he said.
He assured that the ethics and culture of standard research will be entrenched and sustained in the state.
“This will be done so that researchers in the state can be able to proffer solutions to health related challenges without the assistance of foreigners,’’ he said.
He said that Prof. Alash’le Abimiku, President, African Society for Laboratory Medicine, would act as the Executive Director of the centre.
Abimiku is also a Professor at the University of Maryland in the United States of America (USA).
Abimiku promised to give all it takes in ensuring that the laboratory becomes a success story.
He said that the laboratory when fully functional would create a model for the whole of West Africa that could address the outbreak of any epidemic.