With the expansion of testing sites in the country aimed at increasing testing capacity across all states, the importance of increasing the number and skill of in-country personnel that can urgently repair faulty equipment has been highlighted. A top COVID-19 response team in one of the testing centres in the country – a scientist- made this known yesterday.
The scientist similarly noted that the country will experience challenges in fixing faulty PCR (preliminary chain reaction) machines because, according to him, Nigeria doesn’t have enough in-country engineers that can handle such repair when testing machines develop problems.
The reliable source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The expertise for such repairs is not common place in Nigeria.”
To this end, the source urged both the Federal and state governments to improve the capacity of incountry biomedical engineers with a view to building their capacity to enable them handle the repairs when the need arises.
Also, the credible source called for the establishment of relevant policy drive at the Federal and state levels to engage and train more biomedical engineers with a view to increase their expertise in the repair of PCR equipment, adding that the capacity building should take place either in-country or in advanced foreign nations or both.
The scientist noted that many times, “We have incountry engineers that are not well trained; that’s why we have to engage foreign engineers and called this development a policy problem.”
Explaining why Nigeria needs to change the narrative by having experts on ground to handle the repairs of COVID-19 testing machines, the source told the Sunday Telegraph that “many biomedical engineers at the federal and state levels are not even engaged.
After doing their courses, many of them deviate into other things. “We can engage them and have them on stand-by to fix these COVID-19 testing machines. “More laboratories will be set up that will require bringing in real time PCR machines. “So, we will also need to increase biomedical engineers on stand-by to repair when the machines are faulty.”
It will be recalled that the testing machine in one of the isolation centres in Lagos broke down recently, stalling coronavirus testing. Sources told Sunday Telegraph that getting expert technicians all the way from South Africa to fix the equipment took some time, thereby leading to backlog in testing during the period. Information by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) shows that nationwide, thirty COVID-19 testing machines are available as part of the national response to fight the pandemic.
This corroborates the position of the scientist who spoke in this report, that the establishment of more COVID- 19 testing machines will require experts that can repair them whenever they break down.