May 11, 2016
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children under 5 years of age. According to WHO, one out of 200 children infected with Polio will have irreversible paralysis and may lead to death in some cases. Until October 2015 when WHO declared Nigeria polio free, the country was said to be Polio endemic along-side Pakistan and Afghanistan. The total number of recorded cases was 122 in 2012, 53 in 2013 and 6 in 2014. Having successfully interrupted the cycle of the Polio virus and working towards being certified Polio free by July 2017, Nigeria needs to sustain this gains by strengthening surveillance to detect and trace potential cases of the infection , scaling up the capacity of laboratories to test and diagnose the Polio virus, continuous routine immunization to protect children against the disease.
For over a decade, JICA has been supporting the Polio Eradication effort of the Nigerian government through procurement of Oral Polio vaccines and cold chain equipment.
Because laboratory diagnosis is a very important component of surveillance, JICA provides support to two National Polio Reference Laboratories in Ibadan (a city in the Southwestern part of Nigeria), and Maiduguri (in the Northeastern part of Nigeria) where acute flaccid paralysis samples are tested to confirm Polio cases, by sending a select number of staff from both facilities to Japan for training on laboratory diagnosis technique annually.
In the area of equipment maintenance JICA invited two experts, Dr. Hiroyuki Shimizu of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) and Dr. Hideki Miki of Suga Co Ltd from Japan to conduct a needs assessment for the Polio laboratory in Ibadan in May 2015. The assessment showed that most of the equipment was in good working conditions with the exception of seven High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters of Bio Safety Cabinets (BSC) which ensures the safety of laboratory workers handling infectious materials by ensuring safe air flow outside the laboratory, were due for change.
In November 2015, JICA supported the laboratory by procuring seven new HEPA filters, hiring a South African maintenance consultant for to validate all the ten BSCs that were in use, and provided smoke testers to the 2 laboratories for checking the daily conditions of the air flow of the BSC.
In February 2016, Dr. Shimizu of NIID, Dr. Miki and Mr. Hosokawa of Suga Co Ltd Japan were invited by JICA to build the capacity of the staff in conducting routine maintenance of the laboratory equipment. A total, 19 staff from both laboratories, 17 from Ibadan and two from Maiduguri, participated in the training which comprised of lectures and presentations on recent researches on laboratory diagnosis, training on Mycoplasma testing, smoke testing and autoclave validation. They also confirmed the condition of the BSCs with new filters installed and trained the staff on how to conduct such maintenance and the use of smoke testers.
Ms. Funke Akande, One of the training participants, (a laboratory technologist) of National Reference Laboratory Ibadan, gave a feedback on the training she said; "The laboratory staff are now able to carry out periodic check of the BSC using the smoke tester that was provided."
Dr. Miki, teaching some of the participants how to use the smoke testers.
A participant from Maiduguri uses the smoke tester to monitor the air flow of the BSC.
Participants, listening to the lecture by Dr. Shimizu.
Mr. Hosokawa checks the smoke testers.