“This capacity building is timely and has empowered us to effectively respond to COVID-19”, said Ms Ifediata Adaora, a Medical Laboratory Scientist and one of the beneficiaries of the two-day training on Covid-19 on sample management organized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
Ms Adaora added that “it was quite an educative training, which left us better informed on facts about the Covid-19 infection, how to prevent infection through proper use of personal protective equipment, sample collection, packaging, and transport. This will boost the States’ capacity for active case search and sample collection thereby dictating more cases which will help in curbing the pandemic.”
Notwithstanding restrictions put in place by both the state and federal Government, cases of COVID-19 in Anambra state remain on the increase. Based on the Presidential Task Force’s recommendation of decentralization of the response to the states for sustainability and improved coordination, the Anambra state government has created roving Rapid Response Teams (RRT) who operate as semi Emergency Operation Centers (EOC) at various Local Government Areas (LGAs). These teams are involved in active case search at the community level to find more patients. To support the active case search, WHO supported Anambra State and trained 42 personnel from 21 LGAs, which included laboratory scientists/technicians and scientific officers to intensify the response and provide the support needed in increasing sample collection across all LGAs.
The facilitators were trained on how to correctly collect, package, and transport COVID-19 samples in the state. Before the hands-on training, virtual training on COVID-19 sample management was conducted in April 2020 with a few participants mainly from the State level.
The WHO State Anambra State Coordinator, Dr Igboekwu Chukwumuanya remarked, “WHO invested both human and financial resources in training 42 samples collectors across 21 LGAs of the state because it directly contributes to the realization of government’s goal of decentralizing the COVID-19 response to enable states and LGAs take ownership. WHO’s commitment is centered on supporting the government actualis the set targets.
Training sample collectors directly contributes to strengthening the laboratory component of the pandemic response is committed to supporting. Once fully strengthened, LGAs are expected to become the operational hub of the pandemic response, to guarantee long term sustainability of the response.” As of 07 July 2020, Nigeria has 37 functional COVID-19 test laboratories located in 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. The country also recorded 29 286 confirmed cases, discharged 11 828 patients, and 654 deaths from 156 925 tested samples.