The management of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), the philanthropic arm of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, on Sunday said it has contracted 54Gene, a molecular diagnostics company specialized in the research, and diagnostics, to immediately set up a 400 tests per day capacity laboratory in Kano State.
Recall that Kano State has been in the news in recent times for the wrong reason with strange deaths which many fears are from the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, although the state government has stridently denied it. On Saturday, for example, the new Emir of Rano, one of the four newly created emirates out of the old Kano reportedly died from COVID-19 complications hours after he was admitted into a hospital.
54Gene, according to the statement by Dangote Group, is accredited by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and has already set up labs in Lagos and in Ogun States.
The lab, which was inaugurated on Saturday, May 3, in Kano, will be set up at Muhammadu Buhari Hospital in Kano, where an isolation centre is currently operational, and begin with a capacity of 400 tests per day, and thereafter increase it to 1,000 on May 10.
President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said the foundation is directly supporting the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 containment efforts in his home state of Kano.
According to Dangote, this new investment in support of increasing nation-wide testing is in addition to ADF’s support through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
“CACOVID, he explained, “is already setting up a 310-bed isolation centre at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.
“We are extending that capacity by another 150 beds at the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre in Kano, which is being converted into an isolation centre now.
“These two centres will be operational, pending the final validation by the Infection Prevention and Control team, which we expect will be completed in the coming days,” he added, pledging the foundation’s commitment to reduce mortality from diseases, like COVID-19, Ebola and other deadly viruses in the State.
He said the foundation would not relent in using its investments in health, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of sickness and poverty.
Speaking on the efforts of the Foundation to assist the Federal Government to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Managing Director/Chief Executive of ADF, Zouera Youssoufou, said the foundation is also supporting the Rapid Response Teams in their work to identify suspected COVID-19 cases across the healthcare facilities across n Kano.
“ADF will immediately handover to the Kano RRT, 10 new ambulances (four that are immediately available and six over the next week), two vehicles and PPEs to support the transportation of patients from different parts of the state,” she explained.
She said that the foundation is also supporting the Kano State Covid-19 contact call centre that responds to queries from citizens and concerns around Covid-19, referring them to the proper places for follow up. This, she added, is by providing extra phone lines and ICT infrastructure, as well as training for the call centre staff.
Continuing she said: “We are supporting training and incentives for COVID-19 health workers. We will provide hazard incentives and protections for the healthcare and lab workers who are working on the COVID-19 response. We are also providing training to them, initially online and via distance learning, and will complement his with in-person training in Kano under strict IPC protocols developed in conjunction with the NCDC.
“ADF will continue to provide PPEs to the Kano State Covid-19 Taskforce, which will then be distributed to the hospitals as appropriate. Items already supplied include coveralls, gloves, masks, respirators, goggles, boots and sanitizers.
“We are expanding the CACOVID communications strategy in Kano by adding more communications and advocacy around Covid-19 prevention across radio, TV and traditional and community leaders.”
Commending ADF, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje said “there’s no doubt, we started on a shaky foundation, with the assistance of ADF, we can see that a friend indeed is a friend in need.
“We are very grateful for the mobile testing Centre which will launch with 400 samples per day and after a week, increase to 1,000 tests per day.
“It is now left for us to intensify efforts to collect samples. We will ensure that all that 44 Local Government Council have collection centres. Here in the metropolitan local government, we will have 100s of collection centres because this is where the majority of the population is”.
The governor added that the state has intensified efforts to create awareness about the reality of coronavirus, commending ADF for being at the forefront at critical times like this.
Speaking on the collaboration, founder and Chief Executive of 54gene, Dr Abasi Ene-Obong, the 40ft structure built with container technology, provides a unique plug-and-play solution.
Ene-Obong explained that the mobile laboratory is also fully kitted with vital instruments including an autoclave, bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes, and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.
“Our mobile lab is fully equipped with all the vital instruments required for COVID-19 testing and allows us to quickly offer our services to multiple states due to the ease of transport. Its unique plug and play feature eliminates the logistics of shipping samples to another location for the processing which reduces turnaround times for test results and allows clinicians to manage and treat patients accurately, sooner rather than later.”
He said the company has also helped build capacity by equipping molecular scientists with the necessary skill set required to handle the instruments in the mobile lab as they would in regular molecular testing laboratories.
Photo caption: Managing Director/CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), Zouera Youssoufou (second right), on Saturday inaugurated 54Gene, a molecular diagnostics company specialized in the research, and diagnostics laboratory in Kano State.