The FCT Administration (FCTA) on Tuesday inaugurated a public health laboratory for screening of foods and food items in the FCT.
Dr Okechukwu Josephine, the Director of the Public Health Department, Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), said that the laboratory was aimed at preventing and controlling outbreak of food-borne diseases in the territory.
She said that it was also aimed at ensuring that food served to the public was prepared under hygienic environment, especially in the food service establishments.
She added that “the inspection of foods and food items in the FCT falls under the purview of the environmental and occupational health division of the Public Health Department.
“Between 2012 and 2016, screening of food establishment with the issue of medical certificates of fitness was being conducted by some private laboratories and some public laboratories under HHSS.
“The engagement of these laboratories to conduct food handlers’ tests experienced some challenges which generated serious concern to the public health department.
“As a result of this, the department resorted to seeking and obtaining approval to operate a public health laboratory within its complex to conduct the screening.”
She explained that the public health laboratory was established in 2017 and had since been a source of revenue generation for the HHSS.
According to her, a total of N10,321,600 was generated by the laboratory in 2017, while in 2018, it collected
N24,752,700 and received N17, 238,000 from January till September 2019.
She added that “if this laudable service is fully encouraged and sustained, it would surely be of immense benefit in ensuring safety of food being provided
by food establishments in the FCT.”
The acting Executive Secretary of HHSS, Alhaji Musa Abdulraheem, said that the secretariat would work toward replicating such laboratory
across the six area councils of the FCT.
Abdulraheem called on staff of the secretariat to continue to put their best in the various departments, adding that it was hard work that
earned the secretariat a recent award from the Joint Unions Action Committee (JUAC) FCTA/FCDA.
He pledged that the HHSS would continue to give its support to public health whenever the need arose.
“The award bestowed on the secretariat was due to hardwork; we shouldn’t stop in that direction,’’ he stressed.