An official of Buhari’s presidency, Tolu Ogunlesi, has offered clarifications about the functions and operations of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
There have been arguments about the agency’s modus operandi since the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria.
NCDC was established in 2011 to tackle public health challenges.
But the body rose to prominence at the start of the pandemic. It now has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter from less than 100,000 in January 2020.
In a list of facts released at the weekend, Ogunlesi explained that the NCDC do not build, own or run COVID-19 Testing Labs.
He said apart from the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja, all other laboratories are owned/run independently by Federal, State Tertiary Hospitals, and the private sector.
The official noted that NCDC role is accreditation and technical support to qualified laboratories.
He clarified that the agency is not responsible for the collection of samples from patients, or the transportation of confirmed cases to Isolation/Treatment Centers.
“NCDC also does not build or operate Isolation/Treatment Centers. These are the responsibilities of State Governments”, Ogunlesi stressed.
“NCDC also does not make the results of Covid-19 tests available to patients. When a result emerges at any of the Labs, it is made available to NCDC and the State Epidemiologist. The task of informing a patient is the responsibility of the State Epidemiologist/Health Ministry.
“NCDC’s role in the dissemination of Test Results is this: They receive the numbers from the Labs (25 and counting), validate the numbers State by State, collate the figures nationally, and then make the national announcement.
“I have heard the NCDC DG say that sometimes, if they’re unable to validate test data (i.e. confirmed cases) with a particular State, before nightly collation, they will leave that State out of the announcement until the next day. That’s how important the validation is.
“The process is complicated somewhat by the fact that the Labs are carrying out tests for multiple States. You have to ensure that the State-level reporting is accurate and be in constant touch with each State, to minimize the risk of mix-ups or other errors,” he said.
In April, Dr Chinwe Ochu, NCDC Head of Prevention, Programmes and Knowledge Management, said that response to infectious diseases outbreaks such as COVID-19 at subnational levels are led by States.
According to her, NCDC supports States in preparedness and response to disease outbreaks through capacity building, training, guidance and coordination.