THE British Government has donated to Nigeria a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, regarded as the most accurate laboratory method for detecting, tracking and studying coronavirus, to speed up testing for COVID-19 in the country.
In a statement on Monday, in Lagos, the British High Commission to Nigeria stated that the machine was presented to the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, and the Immunisation Team Lead and current Officer-in-Charge of WHO Nigeria, Dr Fiona Braka.
An official of the commission, Karl Holmes, said in the statement that the machine was procured using some of the 661,000 Pounds UK Aid funding commitment that the British Government made to the Nigeria branch of World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020.
According to Holmes, the PCR machine would enhance the NCDC’s COVID-19 testing capabilities in Nigeria, and increase the nation’s capacity to carry out at least three thousand tests per day.
The official said that the UK Government and the Federal Government had been collaborating closely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria since January.
Holmes said that UK had also been working closely with authorities across Nigeria, including the NCDC to support preparedness, planning and wider public health response efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
The official said that the UK’s response was aligned with Nigeria’s efforts at both the national and state levels.
According to the Holmes, UK has been supporting Nigerian authorities with technical assistance, direct financing and by flexing existing health portfolio to help with Nigeria’s planning to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holmes stated: “The procurement of this new PCR machine complements the UK Government’s ongoing financial and technical support to Nigeria for the provision of diagnostic reagents.
“It also shows our support on Biosafety training and certifications through our International Health Regulations (lHR) Strengthening Project led by Public Health England.
“We hope this machine and other support will contribute to the wider efforts to strengthen testing in Nigeria.
“These efforts have been steadily expanding over the last few weeks and we welcome this progress. The UK remains committed to supporting this and other pillars of the response.”
According to the statement, Ihekweazu, said that the tool would enable the country to test millions of people within a few months.
“We are glad to be getting such huge support and technical advice from our partners, including the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).
“This new PCR Machine, which is a small part of our bigger testing strategy, will help us drive toward our goal of testing over two million people in the next three months,” Ihekweazu said.
Ihekweazu said Nigeria would work with international colleagues to address the current pandemic as swiftly as possible and ensure health and prosperity for Nigerians, especially the vulnerable.