BY ADOGHOR BRIGHT OCHUKO
A Nigerian laboratory, the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL), Lagos, recently attained a World Health Organization (WHO) full laboratory accreditation status in respect of its contribution to the fight against measles and rubella in the country.
The CPHL is one of the laboratories under the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) Measles and Rubella laboratory network.
The WHO full accreditated status is the highest accreditation level that can be achieved by any laboratory.
The centre got the status for serology testing for measles and rubella after an on-site assessment of the facility, for providing a high-quality investigation to support testing and surveillance programme in the control of childhood killer diseases in Nigeria.
Speaking at a meeting after the assessment of the laboratory, the WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, says CPHL’ s achievement of the WHO full accreditation status would improve the country’s effort in its quest to eliminate the childhood killer diseases.
Pledging WHO’s continuous support to ensure the laboratories in the country attain WHO full accreditation for the diagnosis of measles and rubella, he appreciated the Nigerian government and the management of NCDC and CPHL for efforts in strengthening the quality of laboratory testing for measles and rubella in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“WHO full accreditation status attained by the laboratory is a great achievement to Nigeria as quality laboratory is critical to understanding the impact of a country’s vaccination programme on the prevalence and spread of disease”, he said.
CPHL was for the first time awarded a full WHO accreditation status. The ranking underlines that the laboratory operates with excellent technical performance, consistently achieving high scores on all WHO accreditation performance indicators.
While measles continues to be a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in many countries, including Nigeria, a laboratory confirmation of suspected cases is essential to coordinate surveillance and curbing the transmission of the diseases.
To this effect, WHO coordinates a global network of measles and rubella laboratories to facilitate high-quality laboratory investigation and accreditation is done based on a thorough quality assessment by technical experts.
In commendation for the result, the Director General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, says the achievement was possible due to the commitment of his predecessor, diligent hard work of colleagues, and the strong support of partners that led to the centre’s ability to have the capacity to detect priority diseases including but not limited to, Mpox, cholera, cerebrospinal meningitis, measles, and rubella.
“I am especially proud and celebrate CPHL accreditation for measles and rubella testing in Nigeria by WHO. As one of Nigeria’s oldest public health facilities, this laboratory has transformed into one capable of contributing to the fulfilment of our mandate to protect the health of Nigerians,” he says.
The WHO accreditation of measles and rubella laboratories is normally reviewed annually based on the performance of the laboratory during the immediately preceding 12 months. Once a lab is accredited, WHO provides technical support and periodically evaluates and reassesses while focusing on the goal of continuous quality improvement.
Meanwhile, CPHL had previously undergone two accreditation exercises in 2015 and 2017 and was granted provisional accreditation.
However, the result of the 2022 on-site assessment and accreditation has placed this giant laboratory on a spotlight following its pronouncement as the first reference laboratory to be fully accredited for the diagnosis of measles and rubella in Nigeria.
Through the GAVI Health System Strengthening fund, WHO has been able to support NCDC to implement project to strengthening the surveillance and laboratory capacity to respond to measles and rubella outbreaks.
Implication for Nigeria measles campaigns
Under the ISO 15189 standard, a laboratory’s competence is assured via an on-site assessment process and participation in applicable Proficiency Testing programs. In line with this global standard WHO developed a checklist structured in two sections – General review/overall findings and Serology review.
The accreditation of laboratories improves the facilitation of accurate and rapid diagnostics, efficiency of treatment and reduction of errors in the laboratory process. The role laboratories play as key players in disease prevention, control and response during public health emergencies cannot be over-emphasized. Laboratory test results impact many areas of public health including disease surveillance and control. This attainment will help to build confidence of the Nigerians on the laboratory results.