jide idris healthcare transformation coalition HTC
Dr. Jide Idris, Director General NCDC

NCDC, Others to Develop National Genomic Strategy for Disease Control

The National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) along with other partners is working towards the development of a comprehensive national genomic strategy, the director general of the agency, Dr Jide Idris has said.

He stated this yesterday in Abuja during the national stakeholders’ engagement meeting for genomic strategy development and inauguration of the national genomic sequencing consortium.

He said Nigeria lacks a centralised national genomic data repository, adding that “a cardinal goal would be to develop a compressive strategy that aims to establish such a repository ensuring secure data storage, sharing and utilisation to benefit the country.”

He said the strategy would also seek to enhance connectivity between various diseases control programmes and existing surveillance networks first within the national jurisdiction and complimentary at the regional level.

He said genomic sequencing enhances the country’s ability to respond to health threats by providing detailed insights into the genetic underpinnings of diseases, enabling more precise and effective public health interventions.

While saying that the urgency of implementing genomics sequencing became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, he added that effective management of genomic data is now recognised as a matter of national security, with profound economic and diplomatic implications

He said, “this interoperability will bolster the foundational public health laboratory functions that support genomics.”

The NCDC DG said the national genomic sequencing consortium will serve as a coordination and oversight body, responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the genomic surveillance strategy.

Dr Jide said investigations were still ongoing for the strange disease in Sokoto and that evidence so far pointed to heavy metal poisoning

A renowned medical expert, Prof Sunday Omilabu in his presentation titled ‘Overview of genomic sequencing in Nigeria’ said genomic sequencing gaps in Nigeria include: space challenge for sequencing labs, poor renumeration of genomic experts, cost of sequencing reagents and consumables and sample logistics and transportation challenges among others.

Dr Olusola Akanbi said membership of the National Genomic Surveillance Consortium were drawn from the NCDC, federal ministries of health, environment, agriculture, and research and academic institutions.