Experts Task FG on Construction of Mycology Laboratories

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-Say 20 million Nigerians have increased risk of fungal infections

Medical experts from the fields of Mycology, Parasitology, Haematology, Microbiology, others, have craved the indulgence of the Federal Government to the urgent need for the construction of Mycology Laboratories in the country, in order to avert fungal infections epidemic.

The scientists, who asserted that about 300 million people across the globe are affected by fungal infections, with 20 million Nigerians at risk of the disease, said it is unacceptable for a country like Nigeria with the magnitude of her population to be devoid of Mycology Laboratories, not even one in existence.

The medical practitioners made this and other submissions at the Cancer Research Centre, of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) durng the first Annual International Conference of the Medical Mycology Society of Nigeria (MMSN).

For Dr Rita Oladele, a microbiologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), the situation in Nigeria is really appalling, where there is no single reference laboratory for fungal infections, saying it is not a good one for the country and its citizens.

L-R Prof Ahmed Hassan Fahal, Dr J. Claire Hoving, Prof Akanmu Alani Sulaimon, Prof. Arunaloke Chakrabarti, Richard Kwizera, Prof Folashade Tolulope Ogunsola, and Alex Jordan in a group photograph.
L-R Prof Ahmed Hassan Fahal, Dr J. Claire Hoving, Prof Akanmu Alani Sulaimon, Prof. Arunaloke Chakrabarti, Richard Kwizera, Prof Folashade Tolulope Ogunsola, and Alex Jordan in a group photograph.

“The most depressing for me in Nigeria is that in the whole country, there is no single reference laboratory, whereas in the laboratory, a lot can be done such as training, surveillance, monitoring of disease outbreak, and collection of  data, but all these are elusive in the absence of a reference laboratory”, she stated.

Oladele, however explained what could be responsible for the absence of the reference laboratory in the country, saying it could be that there is no sufficient enlightenment for those in authority on the importance of a reference laboratory in the country.

Speaking on the topic: “Challenges in management of invasive fungal infections in developing countries”, the President, International Society for Human and Animal Mycology, Professor Arunaloke Chakrabarti, noted that although fungi are part of human lives, as they are eaten as foods, as well as play major roles in drug development procedures, but the same fungi are becoming a huge pain for humans.

Chakrabarti, further expressed his worries over the management of the condition in developing countries, affirmed the prevalence of fungal infections as published in the Journal Nature, to be affecting 300 million people around the world, while about 1.6 million people die from the infections annually.

He said : “It shows that about 300 million people in the world suffers from this fungal infections, 1.6  million people die from fungal diseases, which are comparable with tuberculosis and malaria. We are bothered by the disease called tuberculosis and malaria but we are paying less attention to fungal infections. Recently, fungi are getting so used to our body system, and in fact, there are seven fungi that behave like bacteria in our body.

“In the world today, there is a big challenge, with a fungi called Candida Auris, it has spread to about 32 countries and it is very resistant to antifungal drugs, very easily transmitted, but somehow in Africa, due to lack of  Mycology Laboratories, practitioners are not able we to diagnose it. It is only in South Africa and Kenya that this fungi has been diagnosed, and I’m sure it is present in some African countries too, but since more than 50 percent of general and commercial system of identification cannot pick this kind of fungi, then we need reference laboratory. And Nigeria don’t have a reference laboratory for Mycology, we are saying the government, should do sometime urgently about this condition, and also partner with pharmaceutical companies for the availability and accessibility of antifungal drugs”.

Explaining the effects of fungal infections on HIV and cancer patients, the Chairman, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr Sani Aliyu said due to the weak immune system of these set of people, they are more predisposed to fungal infections than others.

He therefore called for more enlightenment on the disease, saying fungal infections have been the major cause of death in some countries, due to the invasive nature of the condition. “Fungal infections are often caused by microscopic fungi that are common in the environment. Fungi live outdoors in soil and on plants as well as on many indoor surfaces and on human skin.

“There are instances where people become more predisposed to fungal infections, mostly people that are either on immuno-suppression, for example cancer therapy on people who are on intensive guidance. Thus, the essence of the conference is to discuss both the diagnostic and treatment aspects, in order to ensure patients safety.

List of speakers at the first MMSM International Conference include: Prof. Jean-Pierre Gangneux; from the Rennes Teaching Hospital and Rennes 1 University, France;  Dr J Claire Hoving, Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow in Public Health and Tropical Medicine, South Africa; Dr Bright Ocansey, a medical laboratory scientist at New Hope Specialist Hospital Aflao, Ghana;  Prof. Folashade Tolulope Ogunsola, deputy vice-chancellor Development Science at the University of Lagos;  Richard Kwizera, a medical mycologist, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda.

Other  speakers are : Prof. Ahmed Hassan Fahal, University of Khartoum; Dr Mark Okolo, medical microbiologist from the University of Jos; Dr Obianuju Ozoh, a pulmonologist at LUTH;  Alex Jordan, from the Mycotic Disease branch of the United states; Dr Iriagbonse Iyabo Osaigbovo, medical microbiologist at the University of Benin;  Dr Nicholas  Irurhe, radiologist from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos;  Dr Olusola Olabisi Ayanlowo, dermatologist at the Department of Medicine, University of Lagos; Dr Olufunmilola Makanjuola, medical microbiologist and parasitologist, University of Ibadan; and  Dr Sani Aliyu, medical officer at State House Clinic, Imperial College, London.

 

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