Lagos State Biobank
In 2014, the Ebola Virus Disease Research Initiative (EVDRI) was commissioned after the successful containment of the Ebola Virus Disease in order to mitigate against the future outbreaks of the disease in Lagos State. The purpose for the EVDRI was enhanced during the 2016 Emerging Infectious Disease Conference in Lagos, where the collaboration between Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Global Partnership Program, Canada for the establishment of a Public Health Molecular Laboratory with a Biobank Facility was initiated, and its final approval in January 2017. The objectives of establishing the facility are:
- To promptly diagnose diseases of public health importance during routine surveillance activities and during outbreaks of emerging highly pathogenic infectious diseases or incidents of environmental toxicity towards effective clinical management.
- To provide effective prevention, response and containment of biosecurity threats, which are of local and global concern.
- To provide the means to bank biological and/or environmental samples for medical research and international collaboration to fast track research and discovery.
- To design and develop diagnostic tools.
- To carry out Medical Research and Development.
The facility was approved in two phases, which were the design and construction phases, with both phases sponsored by the GPP, Canada. The two phases were undertaking by the African Filter Maintenance Services (AFMS) South Africa, the contractor to GPP Canada. The chosen site for the facility was within the Mainland Hospital complex, Yaba. Environmental Impact Assessment exercise of the location was subsequently sponsored and conducted by the Lagos State Government, the outcome of which was shared with the GPP, Canada. The facility was then shipped from South Africa to the site in Lagos and was installed. The initial equipment and reagents were made available by the GPP, Canada while additional but highly important equipment and reagents were provided by the Lagos State Government. The facility was finally commissioned on 30th October 2018.
The next phase included the fulfilment of Lagos State towards the take-off of the facility, by ensuring the development of policy guidelines, legal framework, standard operational procedures, appropriate and adequate sensitization of professionals and the entire community as well as training of personnel to enhance the appropriate management and maintenance capacity required for the operations of the Laboratory. Finally, the Governing structure for the Laboratory as contained in the policy was empowered through the approval and subsequent inauguration of the Governing Council for the Laboratory by the State Government in 2019.
Nine personnel were finally selected for the laboratory after they were successful in a rigorous selection process by a panel of interviewers.
Series of training sponsored by the Lagos State Government has been conducted for the personnel both locally and internationally with others scheduled for the future in an ongoing manner to equip them for the effective and efficient performance of functions using global best practices. Some other training was provided at the instance of the GPP, Canada for the personnel. The personnel have also been certified internationally having shown competency and proficiency in the international certification examination by the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA).
As a facility commissioned in the State to provide a diagnosis of highly infectious diseases, it has been performing that responsibility since the first case of Corona Virus Disease was diagnosed in Lagos on 27th February 2020 till date. The facility has been approved and linked by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to the Network of Molecular Laboratories in Nigeria for the Diagnosis of COVID-19 cases in Lagos.
Lagos State Biobank was deployed immediately into the testing and coordination of the response to the SARSCOV-2 Pandemic in Lagos State. It at some point was testing over 30% of all COVID tests across the nation. It remained the leading testing laboratory for Covid in the public sector across the country. Lagos State Biobank has been strengthened in the discharge of its duties with 6 new Real-time PCR equipment, State of the art Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay with capacity for serology and vaccine monitoring, Proteomics and Sequencing.
It was also strengthened with 10 molecular scientists, 20 medical laboratory scientists, 30 data officers and numerous other supporting staff as volunteer officers to assist the core full-time staff in the course of the response.