We are in desperate need of test kits – NCDC

The country might be running into a crisis of insufficient reagents for molecular diagnostic testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Sunday said it was “desperately” looking for more Ribonucleic acid (RNA) extraction kits to expand testing.

Its Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu tweeted: “We’re desperately looking for more RNA extraction kits as we expand our COVID-19 testing.

“Product: Total viral RNA extraction kits (preferably spin column and with a lysis buffer). Manufacturers: Qiagen, Thermo Fischer, SeeGene, Inqaba, LifeRiver etc.”

The NCDC has done 10,413 tests as of April 24, with about 600 tested daily.

Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) President, Dr Francis Faduyile, said if Ghana could test over 50,000 and South Africa has tested over 100,000, Nigeria ought to scale up its testing.

He told The Nation: “We have said there is a need for us to have some rapid screening kits. NMA has suggested that our pathologists should validate some of these rapid testing kits.

“Once it is validated, it should be easier for us to do tests in a much more rapid period and we can test a large number of people in a very short period.”

West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS) Registrar/Secretary General Dr. Godswill Okara, said Nigeria needed more test kits.

“Given our population, one would have expected that we will get a lot more than any other country in Africa because even South Africa that does not have up to half of our population got a lot more kits than Nigeria because they had a lot of testing centres and they were able to mobilise their system to put them to use.

“Now that the testing centres have increased, Nigeria is upscaling testing; it becomes necessary that more kits are needed,” he said.

Also yesterday, the NMA said it would soon launch a support programme for private healthcare practitioners.

Dr Faduyile said in a statement: “NMA is unveiling a support program tagged ‘Save Our Private Health Practitioners Initiative’ for the sole objective of raising financial and material support (donations of quality PPEs and infection control consumables) to the tune of N500million targeted at assisting private healthcare practitioners all over the nation in the containment and management of COVID-19 outbreak.

“The Federal Government should implement immediately the proposed comprehensive incentive packages for health workers, including life insurance, enhanced hazard allowance and tax relief.

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