Nigeria flags-off policy document to boost diagnostic testing

World Health Organization (WHO) - Nigeria
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In a bid to ensure that Nigerians have unhindered access to quality, qualitative and affordable diagnostic services, the Federal Government flagged-off and disseminated the first Nigeria National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL).

The policy document launched in Abuja on 9 May 2022, was developed with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Fund. Nigeria is the first country to develop her Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) in Africa.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire represented by Dr Bolanle Alonge, Director/Head Dentistry Division said the NEDL is anticipated to improve patient’s care, in country diagnostic capacity and complement the list of essential medicines and enhance its impact and it has been approved at the Emergency meeting of the National Council on Health. All states in the Federation are encouraged to implement the use of the document.

Over the past few years, there has been increased recognition of the importance of diagnostic testing in healthcare, and especially in achieving the goal of UHC, but until recently, there have been few strategic efforts designed to develop the evidence base on which policymakers can rationally increase and improve access to diagnostic testing”.

He noted that Nigeria is the first country to develop her list in Africa and second in the world following India.

On behalf of the WR, the Deputy Country Representative of the WHO, Dr Alexander Chimbaru, lauded the government's achievement in joining the list of countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan that have adopted the WHO concept of Essential Diagnostic List, and has produced one that is aligned to the disease prevalence in their country.

He said "The WHO Essential Diagnostic List which was first published in 2018, is a list of recommended in vitro diagnostics that should be available at point of care and is intended as a guidance document for countries to create their own national list based on their local context and needs.

Encouraging all the States and health facilities to ensure adequate use of the National Essential Diagnostic List, he noted that it will not only improve the health system capacity to reach accurate diagnosis but will save health resources wasted on inappropriate treatment and long stay in the hospital.

The National Essential Diagnostic List is anticipated to complement and enhance the impact of the Essential Medicines List (EML) which has recorded great improvement in availability and affordability of medicines and quality of patient management”.

Meanwhile, the director of Medical Laboratory Science Division (MLSD) of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr Kingsley Odiadara, providing an overview of the document said the flag-off of the document in the country marks a giant stride towards achieving the core mandate of the MLSD of FMOH as the dissemination of the NEDL will be cascaded to state and LGA levels

The NEDL enlists 145 diagnostic test categories comprising 65 generals in vitro diagnostics (IVDs) to aid the diagnosis of a range of disease conditions; 73 diseases specific IVDs in clinical settings covering primary, secondary, tertiary and national reference laboratories and 7 IVDs for screening of blood donations. It also includes 12 general IVDs and 15 diseases specific IVDs for use in community and health settings without laboratories.

Asides being a tool to facilitating increased access to diagnostic, and quality of diagnostic tests promoting affordable prices, the NEDL is anticipated to improve patient care, in-country diagnostic capacity, affordability of tests, regulation and capabilities of laboratories across the country.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) - Nigeria.