KAMPALA, October 27, 2017 – Dr Tim Evans, the Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group visited the World Health Organization (WHO)-designated Supranational Reference Laboratory (SRL) in Uganda on October 27, 2017. Dr Evans visited the SRL on the sidelines of the Fourth Annual Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) meeting which was held at Speke Resort in Munyonyo from October 25 – 27, 2017. The theme of the GHSA meeting was ‘Health Security for All: Engaging Communities, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Private Sector’.
The SRL building, situated in Butabika, is a state of the art high-quality public health laboratory funded by the World Bank Group under the East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking Project. The laboratory was awarded SRL status in 2013 by the WHO through complimentary support from the EAPHLN project, becoming the second SRL in Africa. Full operations at the new facility commenced in June 2017 after a commissioning ceremony by the President of Uganda His Excellency Yoweri Museveni.
The SRL was designed with support of the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention, demonstrating the importance of partnerships.
Dr Evans was accompanied by the World Bank Group Co-Task Team Leader for the EAPHLN project Dr Peter Okwero. He was received at the laboratory by the Director of the SRL, Prof. Moses Joloba, Laboratory Scientist Charles Manyonge and the Acting EAPHLN Project Coordinator Dr Joseph Senzoga. Others present during the tour were Dr Simeon Kalyesubula, Patrick Ademun, Patricia Akello and Thomas Alinaitwe.
While at the laboratory, Dr Evans was able to view samples that had been referred to the SRL from other sub-Saharan countries like Somalia and Somaliland. He was also able to operate the Sistema BD Bactec MGIT instrument as well as print patient results. Dr Evans was also able to meet trainees from other African countries that are receiving mentorship from the SRL.
Some of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa whose national tuberculosis reference laboratories receive technical support from the SRL in Uganda include Botswana, Burundi, Eritrea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The SRL received a grant of US$6.0 million from the GFATM to operationalize the SRL model.
“This is wonderful work!” noted Dr Evans as he scanned tested samples against the MGITs bar code reader. “Utilization of the Gene-xpert technology has further reduced the turnaround time for relaying the results to supported countries”, said Prof. Moses Joloba, Director of the SRL. “We call up the supported countries as soon as we get cases of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis”, said Charles Manyonge, Laboratory Scientist, Auditor and Mentor with the EAPHLN Project. Dr Evans praised the staff of the laboratory for achieving high standards. He also offered insights on the implementation of mobile isolation units for the cross-country laboratory network supported by the Bank.