By G9ija

The Federal Government on Friday commissioned and handed over the Infectious Disease Care Centre built and equipped by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to the management of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada.

The Centre will significantly strengthen the country’s capacity to manage infectious diseases and response to outbreaks.

Asides the Infectious Disease Centre, the Federal Government also commissioned two other facilities in this hospital – the Accident and Emergency Unit, which is a 32-bed Unit with an intensive care unit (ICU), radiology suite, dialysis unit, fully equipped dedicated operating theatre and oxygen supply; and the Cardiology Unit with a full complement of facilities for non-invasive procedures including a state-of-the-art 4D echocardiograph.

Speaking during the official commissioning and handover ceremony, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said, “This project commenced over a year ago, as part of the commitment of the Federal Government to providing the necessary infrastructure and resources for infectious disease management, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“The University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada was one of the first centres that took on the challenge of managing COVID-19 cases in Nigeria and since then has been on the forefront on the response.

“With laboratory testing and case management in one location, there is much shorter time between sample collection and infection confirmation, which ensures early initiation of treatment and thus mitigate mortality during infectious disease outbreaks.

“The improvement of health security infrastructure does not stop in the Federal Capital Territory. We are also working with other states to establish purpose-built treatment centres that will ensure we are better prepared for infectious disease outbreaks. Our goal is to have at least one standard centre like this in every state.”

He added, “The Federal Ministry of Health is proud of this milestone achievement in the Federal Capital Territory and commends the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the management of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), and every institution involved in the successful completion of this project.

“I will also lay the foundation stone for the Mental Health Block, a 76-bed block which, when completed, will have facilities for specialised therapies; an emergency area; consulting, psychotherapy and seminar rooms; and a pharmacy.”

The Director General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, in his remarks, said, “Today, we now have a centre in FCT where we can jointly manage highly pathogenic infectious diseases effectively, and also carry out diagnosis of these diseases. NDCC has also established a bio-safety level 2 molecular laboratory for the prompt diagnosis of priority infectious diseases.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, no investment in our health system is too much. Not since the end of the civil war has an event brought the entire economy of our country to a stand-still.

“We have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic that big outbreaks can happen anytime, therefore, we must continue to invest in building a strong healthcare system even in the absence of a pandemic. NCDC remains committed to supporting all states and the FCT to build their capacity to prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria,” he said.