NiSRN Policy: FG pledges enabling environment for successful implementation

March 26, 2021
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The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to provide enabling environment to ensure successful implementation of the National Integrated Specimen Referral Network (NiSRN) Policy.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire made the pledge on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of NiSRN and Operational Manual.

The manual was developed by the Medical Laboratory Service Division under the leadership of the National Laboratory Technical Group.

The minister said for sustainability of the referral network, programmes, partners and all relevant implementers were encouraged to pull and integrate resources for an organised implementation.

“We also encourage counterparts from the sub-National (State and local government) and even the private sector to key-in and leverage on the NiSRN initiative as it holds great benefits.

“It is pertinent to acknowledge the commitment and input from numerous partners toward the development of this document and also thank the leadership of National laboratory technical working group for providing guidance.

“It is my sincere hope that the implementation of this NiSRN policy will contribute to achieving the goal of the government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to make quality healthcare accessible to Nigerians,’’ he said

According to him, the Nigerian Laboratory sub-sector has experienced some gains in recent times, such as the improvement of in-country capacity for molecular testing leveraging on COVID-19 response and interventions.

“The sector has also experienced some gains in the optimisation of Gene Xpert platforms for molecular testing and improved finance for health, especially within the laboratory sub-sector’’.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Mr Abdulaziz Abdullahi said the development of the manual began with the step-by-step conceptualisation of the NiSRN strategy.

“ The manual began with conceptualisation of NiSRN strategy by the Health Supply Chain – Procurement Supply Management (GHSC-PSM).

“Involvement of the United State Government (USG) Team culminated into United State Agency for International Development (USAID) funded workshops which brought stakeholders and experts together to deliberate and produce the content of this manual.

“Since specimen referral is relatively underdeveloped in Nigeria, there is the need for capacity building of the operators and managers of the NISRN.

“Hence the need to disseminate the content of this operational manual at national and subnational levels,’’ he said.

Mrs Alice Emeka, Deputy Director, Medical Laboratory Service, FMoH, gave a presentation on NiSRN policy and operational manual to the policy.

Emeka said laboratory investigation played a key role in health care delivery and that some limitations were observed within the Nigeria laboratory sub-sector.

“Some of the limitations are that we have large land mass with dispersed clinical and diagnostic laboratory capacity and capability.

“Limited linkages between existing in-country laboratories providing resources for clinical and diagnosis investigation.

“Also, limited-service integration across disease areas as a result of vertical programme planning, design and implementation.

“With these limitations, a smart way of getting the best of the investment in the laboratory sub-sector (equipment and human resources) in Nigeria is the harmonised and integrated specimen referral system.

“The best of investment in sub-sector is the harmonised and integrated specimen referral system to ensure optimised supply chain through lean operation of doing more with less,’’ she said.

The director said the ministry would be responsible for referral network (as part of its healthcare delivery obligations), operated by private logistics companies.

She said international health organisations and other stakeholders, specifically those of medical laboratory services were expected to participate in accordance to the provisions of this manual.

“Since specimen referral is relatively underdeveloped in Nigeria, much training needs to be done for operators and managers of NiSRN, hence the need to disseminate the content of this operational manual at national and subnational levels,’’  Emeka said.

The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the event was the unveiling of the dissemination of NiSRN Policy by Ehanire.

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