To strengthen the virology centre located inside Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, (AEFUTHA), Ebonyi State which is serving the South East and south regions, a molecular laboratory has been built for the centre with the centre being upgraded to Institute of Research, Treatment and Control, UCHENNA INYA reports
Alex Ekwueme Federal University TeachingHospital, Abakaliki(AEFUTHA) ultra-modern virology centre was constructed by Governor Dave Umahi in 2016 when lassa fever ravaged the state.
Doctors, nurses and patients lost their lives to the virus that particular year, forcing Umahi to embark on the construction of the virology centre to control the disease.
The centre was completed on that same year and handed over to the Federal Government.
The centre continued handling viral disease with many patients treated and discharged. But its burden increased last year when coronavirus ravaged the country.
It became a place where south east and south south regions were coming to test samples of suspected cases of the virus.
It also became one of the treatment centres in Ebonyi state and the country in general. Between October last year and March his year, over 10,000 samples of the virus have tested at the virology centre. The samples were taken to the centre.
The virology centre continued to function effectively in testing and treating cases of the disease, forcing the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to build a laboratory known as Molecular Laboratory for the centre to add to what the hospital already have in the fight against viral diseases.
The Molecular Laboratory was inaugurated by the Director General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu. He said the building of the Molecular Lab was part of federal government programme on covid-19 outbreak to tackle the pandemic.
“Today, Nigerian Center for Disease control is really privileged to hand over the new Molecular Lab built in the Alex Ekwueme Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki.
This is part of the Federal Government’s programme as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, to support the country so that we will never find ourselves in this type of situation again.
“Like I said severally, our role is not only to respond to the current outbreak but to make sure that we are stronger together as a country to respond to future outbreak.
This is what led to the programme that we are carrying out across the country to strengthen our health security in infrastructure, this is one example.
“This facility is well equipped to manage the more common infectious disease threat in Nigeria. But we really planned by expanding this, not only for diagnostic purposes.
This facility today and the management staff and everybody working here will provide an incredible resource for Ebonyi State, in terms of research, capacity building and in terms of really being an attraction for other projects to come to Abakaliki”, he told journalists after inaugurating the laboratory.
He urged Nigerians to take the covid-19 vaccine and assured that the vaccine was safe contrary to the belief of many people in the country.
“No medical intervention in the world that can save more than the vaccine and we are confident right now of the vaccine we are introduced to. I have taken mine about two weeks ago. Every member of staff in NCDC has taken the vaccine. We are confident that the vaccine will be a game changer as we respond to this outbreak in Nigeria,”
Ihekweazu submitted. In his address, Chief Medical Director of AE-FUTHA, Dr. Emeka Onwe Ogah described the molecular laboratory as a critical plank in medicine and clinical practice where molecular diagnosis is carried out which is complimentary in molecular medicine in developing ways to diagnose and treat diseases.
He told the Director General that though the hospital successfully managed some confirmed cases of the virus during its 1st phase outbreak, some lives were lost due to late presentations to the hospital.
Ogah said: “We had sad event where we lost some of our staff from Covid but sir, those that died of Covid, did not contract the disease from the hospital and they presented late. “Among our data for Covid include the following summary of cases from December 2020 to March 2021.
We had total number of admissions 102, two positive cases that are alive, 54 total negative cases that are alive, 39 deaths with positive tests, 5 deaths with 17 negative tests.
He however, appealed to the Federal Government to convert the Viral Research, Treatment and Control Centre of the hospital to a regional centre, since, according to him, it is the only centre, currently serving South-East and South-South regions of the country.
“We are appealing that this centre having played this role in serving the hospital community, Ebonyi State government, south east and south south when the need arose, we are appealing if this place will be converted to regional centre, we will be very happy.”
He called on people to take the covid-19 vaccine and observe all protocols for the pandemic “Everybody should observe all WHO and NCDC Covid- 19 infection prevention and control protocol.
The state’s Ministry of Health is ready for us to commence this corona vaccine. Make yourself available, don’t listen to online news, don’t listen to those who will like to deceive you.
“When you get the vaccine, you will be better protected and even when you get it, don’t forget the known pharmaceutical protective measures. If you have seen or suffered from severe form of covid-19 and you are alive today, you will understand what I have said,” Ogah submitted.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of AEFUTHA, Dr. Ahmed Tijani said with the completion of the edifice, the hospital can now boast of a molecular laboratory with different units that meets World Health Organization Standards for infectious disease laboratory.
He commended the NCDC DG for constructing the laboratory and his commitment to the AEFUTHA in the management and treatment of covid-19.
“Through his efforts, AEFUTHA became one of the first five hospitals with laboratories for COVID-19 testing in Nigeria”, he said.
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike, described the building and commissioning of the AEFUTHA molecular laboratory as a milestone, and commended the NCDC for making it possible.
Umezurike assured that Ebonyi State Government would continue to support the hospital in the best way it could. Also, in his remarks, Head of Mission Nigeria, Dr. EwalD Stals, who described the laboratory as world class, expressed happiness that their partnership with the hospital was working.