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After N2bn donation, Aliko Dangote Foundation engages 54gene lab

…to conduct 1,000 COVID-19 tests per day in Kano

The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), a philanthropic endeavour of Aliko Dangote, has contracted 54Gene, a molecular diagnostics company specialised in research and diagnostics, to immediately set up a 400 test/day capacity laboratory in Kano State.

54Gene is accredited by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and has already set up labs in Lagos and in Ogun States.

The lab, which was inaugurated on Sunday in Kano, will start with a testing capacity of 400 tests a day, increasing to 1,000 tests a day by May 10.

The lab will be set up at Muhammadu Buhari Hospital in Kano, where an isolation center is currently operational.

Aliko Dangote, president/chief executive of Dangote Group, said the foundation is directly supporting the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 containment efforts in Kano State.

According to Dangote, this new investment in support of increasing nation-wide testing comes in addition to ADF’s support through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

“CACOVID is already setting up a 310-bed isolation centre at Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano. We are extending that capacity by another 150 beds at the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre in Kano, which is being converted into an isolation centre now. These two centres will be operational pending the final validation by the Infection Prevention and Control team, which we expect will be completed in the coming days,” Dangote said.

He pledged the Foundation’s commitment to reduce the number of lives lost to diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola and other deadly viruses in the state.

He said the Foundation would not relent in using its investments in health, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of sickness and poverty.

Speaking on the efforts of the Foundation to assist the Federal Government in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, Zouera Youssoufou, managing director/CEO of ADF, said the Foundation is also supporting the Rapid Response Teams in their work to identify suspected COVID-19 cases across the healthcare centres in Kano. “ADF will immediately hand over to the Kano RRT 10 new ambulances (four that are immediately available and six over the next week), two vehicles and PPEs to support the transportation of patients from different parts of the state,” she said.

She said that the Foundation is also supporting the Kano State COVID-19 contact call centre that responds to citizen queries and concerns around COVID-19 and refers people to the proper place for follow-up, by providing extra phone lines and ICT infrastructure as well as training for the call centre staff.

“We are supporting training and incentives for COVID-19 health workers. We will provide hazard incentives and protections for the healthcare and lab workers who are working on the COVID-19 response. We are also providing training to them, initially online and via distance learning, and will complement this with in-person training in Kano under strict IPC protocols developed in conjunction with the NCDC.

“ADF will continue to provide PPEs to the Kano State COVID-19 Taskforce, which will then be distributed to the hospitals as appropriate. Items already supplied include coveralls, gloves, masks, respirators, goggles, boots and sanitisers.

“We are expanding the CACOVID communications strategy in Kano by adding more communications and advocacy around COVID-19 prevention across radio, TV and traditional and community leaders,” she said.

Commending ADF, Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano State governor, said though the state started on a shaky foundation, with assistance of ADF, it is clear that a friend in need is a friend in deed.
“We are very grateful for the mobile testing centre which will launch with 400 samples per day and after a week, increase to 1,000 tests per day. It is now left for us to intensify efforts to collect samples. We will ensure that all that 44 local government councils have collection centres. Here in the metropolitan local government, we will have hundreds of collection centres because this is where the majority of the population is,” Ganduje said.

The governor added that the state has intensified efforts to create awareness about the reality of coronavirus.

He commended the Dangote Foundation for always occupying the forefront of helping in critical times like this.

Abasi Ene-Obong, founder and CEO of 54gene, said the 40ft structure built with container technology provides a unique plug-and-play solution.

Ene-Obong explained that the mobile laboratory is also fully kitted with vital instruments including an autoclave, bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes, and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.

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