Lagos Biobank, a digital platform developed by the Lagos State Government to meet the increasing demand for Covid-19 testing, following the decentralisation of testing in the state, has handled more than 5,000 requests from individuals since inception. Supported by Sterling Bank Plc, the Lagos Biobank platform was launched by the state government to ensure equitable access, accelerated testing and improved case management for all in the state in a bid to harmonise data from public and private testing centres, while also regulating the billing of patients paying for their tests. Speaking on the initiative, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi said: “It is important to iterate that Lagos State Government, through the Lagos Biobank, still makes prompt and reliable Covid-19 tests accessible to residents at no cost for the public health emergency response.”
According to him, all other groups who would want to test and do not fit into the case definition such as corporate groups, returnees, family and individual can book appointments for sample collection and pay for the test via the digital platform and they would be assigned to one of the private laboratories. He said they would also have the option of choosing their preferred laboratories and that a standard fee would be charged through online payment or bank transfer for tests on the platform, irrespective of the private testing centre. The commissioner said the platform eliminates the overbilling of citizens seeking to know their Covid-19 status through government-approved private labs. Abayomi added that Lagos State will remain a regulator in the process of private testing by the laboratories and will not partake in the private testing of groups that do not meet the case definition but would be responsible for data management and protection following the government’s strict policies on data governance, which is one of its core functions as a regulator.
Also commenting on the initiative, Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Health and Education Sectors with Sterling Bank, said: “We are delighted to support the Lagos State Government to deliver the Lagos Biobank platform, which is accelerating Covid-19 testing for Lagos residents and relieving the burden on the public health infrastructure in the state. “This initiative, which expands the Covid-19 response capacity in Nigeria’s most populous state, has improved testing capacity, identification of active infections, case management and contact tracing.” According to him, the private Covid-19 testing strategy in Lagos State using a network of approved diagnostic centres is a sustainable model that should be adopted nationwide.
“Lagos has proven that Covid-19 testing can be decentralised with support from private sector partners using standardised methods for sample collection and accelerated diagnosis. “Using technology, the Lagos Biobank is ensuring equitable access to testing and transparent charges for all. It is a model that must be adopted nationwide,” Ukachukwu said. The platform is powered by a network of government-approved private diagnostic laboratories in the state. They are Medbury Medical Services, SYNLAB, 54gene, BIOLOGIX, Clinalancet, O2 Medical Services, Clinix Healthcare, Afriglobal Medicare, Reddington Zaine Laboratory and VCare Diagnostics Limited. For providing the digital platform which manages the operational processes of the Lagos Biobank network from end-to-end, Sterling Bank was appointed the fund/process administration partner.
The bank is saddled with the responsibility of managing invoicing, collections and distribution of payments to the diagnostic labs on the network.