The Federal Government has approved the evaluation of Omega Visitect Cluster Differentiation Molecule 4 (Omega CD4) Rapid Test Kit to monitor patients living with HIV, responding to Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
CD4 is a diagnostic device for the detection and monitoring of HIV infection.
In people with HIV Infection, the CD4 count is one of the important laboratory indicators of immune function and predicator of HIV progression.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, disclosed this at the Dissemination Meeting of Omega Visitect CD4 Rapid Test kit Laboratory-Based Evaluation Report and Kit on Friday in Abuja.
Ehanire said: “The Omega Visitect CD4 Rapid Test Kit Performed well in Identifying persons with low CD4 count with a sensitivity of 97.9 per cent.
“It is noted that the detection of higher CD4 count is poor, with a specificity of 46.4 per cent.
“The kit, however, meets the requirement to be recommended for use in the National HIV testing algorithm.
“I hereby officially disseminate the Omega Visitect CD4 Rapid Test Kit Laboratory-Based Evaluation and approve its use in Nigeria.”
According to Ehanire, current data indicates that Nigeria has 1.9 million persons infected with HIV and about 1.1 million on Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
The minister said in line with the global 90-90-90 targets, there should be 1.71 million people who know their status.
He added: “This means that up to 600,000 HIV Positive persons need to be identified and tested by December 2020.
“The second ’90’ target is to have 1.54 million Persons Living With HIV/AIDs on ART by December; this underscores the need for appropriate diagnostic tools.”
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, said the dissemination of the testing kit was coming at a time when the ministry was concern about the quality of healthcare.
The permanent secretary said the dissemination of testing kit was also coming at the time when the ministry was concern about effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery.
“Nigeria has to expand HIV testing algorithm to accommodate the yearning and aspiration of all of us bearing in mind the WHO specifications on sustainability of HIV Testing kits in the country,” Abdullahi said.
According to him, the major focus of the meeting will be the presentation of Omega Visitect CD4 Rapid Test kit Laboratory-Based Evaluation Report.
He added: “We hope with the approval from the minister, in addition to other kits, it will make the quality of test kit readily available in the country.”
Giving an overview of the report, Manason Rubainu, Chair, Laboratory Evaluation Team, said the overview was necessary to be able to know performance of the device used in laboratory.
Rubainu said the team did phase one evaluation and got samples from the six geopolitical zones, characterised the testing and used some specimens to evaluate the performance of the test kit.
“For CD4 testing, it was used to measure if the patient could fight disease or not; it was also used to diagnose advance HIV, depending on CD4 count,” he said.
Majekodunmi Aborode, Nigerian Representative, Omega Diagnostics Limited, assured of the availability of the CD4 testing kit.
Aborode said: “One of the objectives of the company apart from enriching the health sector in the country is economic aspect of it.
“I have discussed with the manufacturer if they can bring the technology to Nigeria and they have promised to bring the plant to the country; that is part of the agreement I had with the manufacturer.”
According to him, one Omega Visitect CD4 Rapid Test kit costs six 6 dollars (about N2,160) and it is more avoidable.
He said: “It is less expensive, it does not require any maintenance, it do not require any electricity; also you will know your count result in 40 minutes.”
Similarly, Araoye Segilola, the National Coordinator, National AIDS/STI and Hepatitis Control Programme, said the kit could be used to test other diseases such as Malaria and Tuberculosis in patients living with HIV.
Segilola, an official of Department of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, said the kit could also be used to detect the response of patient to medicine.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the 35-page report of Laboratory Evaluation of Omega Visitect CD4 Rapid Test Kit to the minister.