Society of Testing Laboratory Analysts of Nigeria, SOTLAN, has raised alarm over the numerous challenges confronting analytical laboratories in Nigeria, saying that except the sector gets government intervention the country will continue to be dumping ground for adulterated products.
Speaking in Lagos during the 2022 Conference of Public Analysts, SOTLAN President, Professor Olugbenga Ogunmoleya, said that the challenges ranges from poor infrastructure, such as unstable electricity and access to constant water supply.
“The prohibitive cost of laboratory equipment and accessories as well as laboratory chemicals and reagents in addition with absence of local technical competence for maintenance among others which has clearly contributed to the slow growth of analytical laboratories in the country.”
He quoted the 2019 report by Mordor Intelligence on global testing market, which showed that North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific jointly control 91 percent of the global market share, while the rest of the world, largely Africa and the Middle East control only 9 percent of the market.
“Of this, the bulk of testing samples from Nigeria are either shipped overseas for analysis, or undertaken by foreign operating with branches in Nigeria due to lack of local capacity.
Without local testing competence, quality assurance cannot be assured, and the country will continue to be a dumping ground for fake and adulterated products whether in the area of food, drugs, medical devices, industrials chemicals, petroleum and other products.”
Speaking on the theme, “Building Capacity for Global Competitiveness of Testing Laboratories”, the Country Director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN, Dr. Michael Ojo said that back in 2018 no single laboratories in the country was accredited to international standard for testing micro nutrient in food.
“This prompted GAIN to source for funding with a project titled Expanding Nutrition Access by Building Capacity and Enhancing Policy which was funded by Gates Foundation. As part of this project, GAIN implemented three level assessment on selected laboratories both public and private.
“A total of 10 laboratories were first selected for micro nutrient analysis and at the end was reduced to five, three public and two private laboratories. We observed gap in eight key areas such as human capital, inadequacy in infrastructure condition, poor calibration of equipment, inadequate in process requirement among others. We work the journey with them and at the end ensure they get accredited.
In her opening remark, Professor Celina Maduemezia, admonished laboratory analysts to take advantage of Africa Continental free trade agreement, “we need to learn from other nations that are enhancing their global competitiveness and getting better outcome for their economic activities through efficient deployment of human resources, available natural resources and technology.
“The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement has showed that Nigeria cannot afford to have ill-equipped and substandard analytical laboratories which will not be able to withstand the competitiveness of regional and global laboratories.
“Instead of using foreign laboratories with attendance of capital flight, we must rise to the occasion and play crucial role in improving the quality of testing in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.”