Nigeria’s Polio laboratories pass another round of accreditation exercise 

Abuja, 30 August 2018 - The national Polio laboratories in Maiduguri and Ibadan have successfully passed World Health Organization (WHO) accreditation quality checks. The accreditation of the   laboratories is for the next twelve months, starting from September 2018. 

During the exercise, the Team lead of the Polio accreditation exercise, Dr Gumede-Moeletsi Nelisiwe described the accreditation procedure as a means of monitoring the accuracy and quality of testing in the laboratories. 

“It is an annual exercise that includes on-site reviews of work practices, performance and proficiency testing,” she stated. “The exercise provides documentation that the laboratory has the capability and the capacity to detect, identify, and promptly report wild polioviruses (WPV), vaccine derived polioviruses (VDPV) and Sabin viruses that may be present in clinical and environmental specimens.”  

She further explained that the accreditation process provides a learning opportunity and a mechanism for identifying resource and training needs, measures progress and serves as a link to the current 146 WHO accredited Global Polio laboratory Network (GPLN) spread across 92 countries in the six WHO regions. The acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance in the country is currently supported by two national polio laboratories one each in Ibadan and Maiduguri. These laboratories individually analyze the highest number of stool samples amongst the polio laboratories in the AFRO region. 

Dr Gumede-Moeletsi further highlighted that both laboratories collectively analyzed more than 40,000 AFP stool samples in 2017. In addition, the Ibadan polio laboratory has been analyzing Environmental Surveillance (ES) samples since its inception in the country in 2011. In 2017, Ibadan polio laboratory analyzed 1,700 ES samples. 

The Directors of the two laboratories, Professor Marycelin Baba (Maiduguri) and Dr Adeniji Johnson (Ibadan) separately expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the accreditation exercise, which they attribute to staff dedication, commitment and support from the respective Universities, the Federal Government and WHO. The Directors additionally pledged to follow up on all the recommendations made by the accreditation team in order to translate them to concrete actions. 
The accreditation and Maiduguri polio laboratory teams agreed on a timeline of activities to initiate ES sewage sample testing in the Maiduguri lab by November 2018. 

In his remarks, the WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu commended the management of the two laboratories.  “We congratulate the two laboratories for maintaining professionalism and international standards but entreat them not to compromise the quality of their services,” he stated but reiterated “the need for the two laboratories to accept the recommendations made by the accreditation body and ensure implementation of all pending actions.” 

It is worth mentioning that, for the first time, the Ibadan laboratory ES component also underwent accreditation assessment using the new checklist developed for the purpose. 

The last case of WPV in Nigeria was detected in Borno state on August 21 2016. Since then, no new cases of the WPV have been isolated and the Federal Government in collaboration with WHO and partners have committed to continue strengthening surveillance in hard to reach communities in northeastern Nigeria. 

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