Ugandan labs win innovation awards
The Central Public Health laboratories (CPHL) and Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) got best practice awards for their inventions that have improved the health of millions of Ugandans.They were honoured by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), a pan-African professional body mandated to strengthen laboratory services in Africa.
CPHL stood out for its hub based sample transport network, which aims at increasing access to quality laboratory services across the country. The network was designed by creating local hubs with adequate capacity at sub-district level. Each hub is given a motorcycle and rider, who through scheduled visits reaches out to all the sites (30 per hub), and collects samples that can be run at the hub.Already, 77 hubs, reaching over 2300 health facilities have been setup across the country.
“Instead of having laboratories all over the place which are difficult to manage, the sample transport system has enabled reorganization of the lab services to fewer service points,” said Sarah Opendi, the minister of state for Primary Health Care at a press briefing to officially hand over the awards.She added that the 77 laboratory hubs have all had infrastructural improvements, received additional lab personnel and modern equipment capable of doing chemistry, haematology and CD4 tests. On the other hand, UVRI received the Top Best Practice in laboratory medicine award for building capacity for detection, surveillance and confirmation of viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.
Its surveillance programme, Opendi said, is one of the most successful public health programmes, confirming eight independent outbreaks since 2011. The viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) laboratory based at UVRI was setup as a national reference lab for VHF in Uganda in collaboration with US centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In addition to the two awards, the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL) received a certificate of international accreditation from the South Africa National Accreditation System.“The awards and accreditation mean that our labs have been strengthened and members of the public should be confident that diagnosis and correct treatment are being effected,” said Dr Alex Opio, commissioner for Health Services in charge of national Disease Control in the Health ministry.
The three labs were first recognized during the second scientific conference of the African society for laboratory medicine held in Cape Town last month.