The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) has issued guidelines for private sector medical laboratories seeking to provide testing through completely private arrangements for COVID-19.
The MLSCN in information posted on its website stated that the document was developed in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health.
According to the guideline, COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread throughout the world, leading to significant impacts on healthcare systems and causing societal disruption.
“To respond effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak, rapid detection of cases and contacts, appropriate clinical management and implementation of community mitigation efforts are critical.
“A key response strategy to reducing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is to safely expand diagnostic testing to ensure a larger number of people can access testing during the public health emergency.
“During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic globally, medical laboratories from the private sector have been an important resource to assist with increasing the scale of testing.
“They have been important resources to assist the scale through the provision of resources either through financial support or leveraging existing infrastructure and technical expertise.
“The NCDC has developed a national testing strategy that aims to harness the public and private sectors to rapidly expand diagnostic testing.’’
It stated that the document had been developed to guide engagement with the private sector medical laboratories to help accelerate the availability of COVID-19 diagnostic testing for the duration of the public health emergency.
“Throughout the following document, ‘private sector’ will refer to laboratory facilities which are for-profit or not-for-profit.
“In the national strategy, there are private medical laboratories that are being supported to provide testing to the public sector.
“This has been agreed with the State Governments in the states where they operate.
“For these private medical laboratories, providing a public sector function, NCDC and its partners will continue to support the provision of reagents and consumables so that testing is conducted at no cost to the patient.’’
In a related development, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of MLSCN, Dr Tosan Erhabor said the document would guide the private sector to accelerate the availability of COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
In a video posted on the official twitter account of the council @MedLabNigeria, Erhabor sait it would guide engagement with private labs for the duration of public health emergency in Nigeria.
“For these private medical laboratories, providing a public sector function, NCDC and its partners will continue to support the provision of reagents and consumables so that testing is conducted at no cost to the patient,” he said.
Erhabor said prospective private medical laboratories for COVID-19 testing should be granted approval by MLSCN in collaboration with NCDC in accordance with these Guidelines.
“However, those not granted this special approval and proceed to conduct COVID-19 testing will be considered to have contravened the provisions of Section 4 (h) of MLSCN Act.
“Medical Laboratories Regulations for Inspection, Approval, Monitoring and Accreditation, and will be sanctioned in line with the provisions of the said regulation,’’ he said.
Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) is a Federal Government Statutory Regulatory Agency established by Act 11 of 2003. (NAN)