West African nations, at the weekend, agreed to strengthen their laboratory capacities for better preparedness against epidemic spread in the sub-region.
This was part of the resolution of the first technical and steering committee meetings of the Strengthening Epidemiological Surveillance and Laboratory System in West Africa (PROALAB), held Lagos, Nigeria.
The participants said it was also important for member-states to stop the practice of waiting for epidemics to happen, but to continually carry out surveillance through their laboratories.
They further called for strengthening of the laboratories in terms of capacity, the work force and quality assurance.
The participants, who included the Director General of the West African Health Organisation, Stanley Okolo, said the initiative would not only help identify infectious diseases, but also identify the nature of viruses involved.
The project, sponsored by the German Development Bank for the West African sub-region, is going on in four West African countries, namely Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Out of the 11 laboratories to be supported in the region, five are in Nigeria.
The main objective of the project is to better protect the population of the region against epidemic diseases. The project aims to strengthen in ECOWAS the sustainable development of structures and capacities allowing the rapid identification of outbreaks of infectious diseases in the territories of its partner states to allow a rapid and effective response to the prevention of an epidemic.
The main objective of the project is to extend the regional epidemiological surveillance system by strengthening the network of national and regional reference laboratories.