All too often North Nigeria features in the press for all the wrong reasons, Boko Haram attacks and corruption just to name two. So it is a real privilege to be communicating weekly with Fantsuam Foundation, who under the leadership of John Dada is a positive example of integrated development, despite its ongoing battle for proper and sustainable funding.
However, John surpassed even himself this week when he shared some extra details about the new Zipak Research Laboratory.
As a former paediatric nurse myself, the significance of a diagnostic laboratory in this rural impoverished host community is a stunning breakthrough.
John reminded us that Nigeria has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. He then went on to explain:
“The main objective of the lab is to provide free diagnostic services for children under five, in order to help identify the true causative agents of so much fever in children. So far, general treatment is provided for only malaria and typhoid fever due to absence of a reliable laboratory diagnosis. The data from the lab will be invaluable to designing appropriate and specific interventions. The entire West African region needs the kind of data that will be generated from this lab. This research is following up on the heels of the successful sickle cell screening we had for children under five."
John went on to tell us that:
"Sample size is yet to be decided. We will do a pilot for a week, and use that as a benchmark of what is possible I am a bit hesitant to open the floodgates: the need is high, but the facilities are not large enough just yet to cope with a high inflow of patients and I'd hate to send away any child on that ground.”
John explained that this important research is a collaboration between the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, Michigan State University (MSU) and Fantsuam Foundation(FF). The Kaduna State is paying the salaries of 3 key personnel: namely the medical doctor, the lab scientist and the nurse. Consumables for the laboratory are being funded by the MSU, while FF is providing the supervision, and infrastructure of building, water, power and security .
John added that FF’s priorities for their share of the contribution is building a perimeter fence for more privacy and providing a rest area for staff who will be on night shift because samples will be incubated 24/7 in the automatic incubator.
The next priority will be the installation of solar panels to augment the diesel generator and inverter system now in place. This will ensure uninterrupted 24/7 power for the lab which will be a major and important achievement for the region.