Abuja, May 14, 2019 – U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for West Africa and Security Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs, Whitney Baird and Mrs. Olu Mustapha, representing the Permanent Secretary for Defence, visited the Defense Reference Laboratory (DRL) of the Nigerian Ministry of Defense (NMOD) in Mogadishu Cantonment to view firsthand the strong partnership between the Nigerian and U.S. militaries to strengthen public health. DRL represents an excellent example of military to military collaboration aimed at addressing deadly infectious diseases affecting Nigeria and the West African region.
In 2004, the NMOD and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) partnered to respond to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and to collaborate in delivering related treatment, care and support within the military community. The partnership, implemented by the NMOD’s Health Implementation Program (HIP) and WRAIR’s U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria (USAMRD-A/N), now provides HIV anti-retroviral therapy for 31,000 patients, but are collaborating to strengthen defenses against other infectious diseases within and outside Nigeria.
The partnership has expanded to 43 military medical facilities. It has completed four research protocols, including two Phase II Ebola vaccine trials – the first of their kind in Nigeria. In 2015, the partners added their expertise to the Joint West Africa Research Group, a collaboration driven by the West Africa Ebola outbreak and with the aim of enhancing the personnel and technological capacity of the region to prepare for, detect, and respond to future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
The DRL is the only lab in West Africa accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. Jointly staffed by personnel from NMOD and USAMRD-A/N, this state-of-the-art laboratory provides medical laboratory services to Nigerian service members, their families, and military communities in Abuja and surrounding states. Conducting over 8,000 tests per day, it is one of the largest labs supporting the testing of HIV viral load samples – a routine test for HIV-positive patients – from medical facilities across the country.