The room was full of top professionals ranging from medical doctors, nurses, biomedical and mechanical engineers to nurses, veterinary doctors, laboratory technologists and pharmacists, as we attended the Civic Engagement and Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Lagos State Biosecurity Initiative which was organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
So what is the Lagos State Biosecurity Initiative?
It’s a plan to strengthen the state’s capacity to contain and respond to all biological threats – from infectious disease outbreaks to biological terrorist attacks (bioterrorism). It all centers on the newly-commissioned $4.5 million biobank laboratory – the first of it’s kind in Lagos – which Governor Akinwunmi Ambode commissioned in October in partnership with the Canadian government.
What is a biobank?
A biobank is a containment laboratory and secure storage facility for biological samples. In other words, it’s a place where human elements (blood, tissue, urine, cells, etc.) and their data are stored or preserved, to support research, the development of vaccines and treatments, personalized medicine, and more.
The Lagos biobank facility, located in Mainland Hospital in Yaba, was designed to ensure effective management of infectious disease outbreaks with a special focus on containing and strengthening the state’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to all biological threats.
What happened during the event?
In his opening remarks, Honourable Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris said that the project intends to mitigate all future outbreaks, not just for Ebola, and will also serve to improve and expand the state’s health infrastructure.
In his lecture on Lagos in the Eye of Global Health, Biosecurity Preparedness, Professor Akin Abayomi mentioned that the biobank was equipped with laboratories such as the biosafety level (BSL) 1 for normal laboratory procedures, BSL 2 for dangerous pathogens, and BSL 3 for very dangerous pathogens such as Ebola, Lassa, Zika. He also introduced the international guests whose expertise will support the biobank: Prof. Alan Christoffels, Bioinformatician, South African National Biodiversity Institute; Dr. Carmen Swanepoel, Biobank Manager, Tygerberg Biobank; and Dr. Dominique Anderson, Product Analyst from South Africa.
In his lecture titled One Health and Epidemics, renowned Nigerian virologist Professor Oyewale Tomori mentioned that all hands must also be on deck to ensure that the biobank initiative becomes a success.
We are excited to be a civil society supporter of this initiative and after this meeting, we’re looking forward to seeing lots of pioneering research, developments, and treatments from the biobank!