Alia inaugurates PCR laboratory to combat HIV, infectious diseases

The Executive Governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth lormem Alia, has commissioned a state-of-the-art Molecular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Laboratory in Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Makurdi, Benue state to combat infectious diseases.

The FMC Makurdi Mega PCR Laboratory is one of the PCR laboratories supported by US Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) through APIN Public Health Initiatives.

It has undergone rigorous accreditation processes, including adherence to ISO 15189:2012 standards, ensuring its reliability and accuracy and to meet International standard.

Speaking during the commission ceremony, Alia said the commissioning of the molecular laboratory shows the commitment of the US government to support the Benue state government to sustain and accelerate progress in ending the HIV epidemic and combating other public health disease outbreaks.

The governor noted that the laboratory will play a pivotal role in the collective efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and Lassa Fever among other infectious diseases, monitor treatment effectiveness, and prevent mother-to-child transmission through HIV viral load testing and Early Infant Diagnosis (EID).

“With its advanced technology and skilled workforce, the PCR laboratory will also serve as a cornerstone in our broader public health infrastructure, enabling timely detection, surveillance and response to a wide range of infectious diseases.

“Lassa fever is also endemic to Benue state, with the recent rising cases, my administration through the Ministry of Health has activated a multi-disease emergency operation to achieve multi-sectoral coordination and response,” he added.

Acting Country Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nigeria, Suzanne Theroux, in her address said the PCR Laboratory which is a state of the art facility will play a critical role in supporting accurate laboratory investigations including viral load assessments and Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) of those living with HIV/ AIDs.

She noted that the laboratory will also serve as a hub, receiving and processing samples from other states of the country.

“Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi is one of APIN’s supported facilities under the U.S CDC-funded Accelerated Comprehensive AIDS Response for Epidemic Control and Sustainability (aCARES) project.

“Through this facility, APIN supports the Benue State HIV response by providing comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment and care services to all population groups.

Chief Medical Director of FMC, Makurdi, Namgwa Joseph Kortor said the establishment of the state-of-the-art PCR laboratory underscored the hospital’s unwavering dedication to providing accessible, efficient and quality healthcare to all the citizens.

He noted that with the capability to rapidly and accurately diagnose a wide range of infectious diseases, the facility will undoubtedly play a crucial role in safeguarding public health and saving fives. He extended his heart felt appreciation to APIN for all their support in ensuring realization of the project stating that their tireless efforts and unwavering support have been
instrumental in bringing the vision to fruition.

Yanimar Ortese, Benue State’s Commissioner for Health and Human Services, acknowledged the significant contribution of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to the region’s healthcare sector, particularly in combating HIV/AIDS.

Ortese highlighted that PEPFAR’s funding has been pivotal in redefining HIV as a treatable condition rather than a terminal illness.

He revealed that, with assistance PEPFAR, more than 180,000 HIV-positive individuals are now receiving essential antiretroviral therapy in 264 medical centers throughout the state.

He further emphasized that PEPFAR’s support has not only saved countless lives but has also fortified the state’s health infrastructure, modernized facilities, and enhanced the skills of medical personnel to deliver high-quality, comprehensive HIV care.

The recent gift of a PCR machine is a testament to the ongoing collaboration, Ortese noted. This state-of-the-art equipment will significantly improve the state’s ability to promptly identify, monitor, and manage a variety of infectious diseases, including HIV and Lassa fever.”