In Makeni: Health Minister commissions Laboratory for COVID-19 testing
By Kadrie Koroma
Minister of Health and Sanitation Minister has on Saturday August 29, 2020 commissioned a newly refurbished Makeni Government Molecular Laboratory for COVID-19 testing.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie disclosed that as at 2019, there were sixteen (16) Molecular Scientists in-country, and according to him, the state of preparedness for public health was such that they had surveillance teams in place to access and evaluate the various laboratories.
He informed his audience that before the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Sierra Leone on March 31 this year, there were only three laboratories including Connaught, 34 and Jui, but disclosed that Kenema has been added to the number.
“A lot has been done in extending laboratories across the country. To ensure sustainability, the government of Sierra Leone for the first time has decided to sponsor itself for economic growth. In the supplementary budget, a $10 million project was documented by the Ministry for health systems strengthening between now and December this year,” he said.
According to him, this will be the first time that the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health will be working with their traditional partners including WHO and UNICEF to procure on behalf of the government.
The Minister commended PIH, CHAMPS, CDC, WHO and other agencies for the support, and called for collaborative efforts to ensure intervention in strengthening laboratory systems.
Country Director, Division of Global Health Protection, CDC, Tushar Singh said: “A joint external evaluation conducted in Sierra Leone in 2016 revealed that lab capacity is quite low.”
WHO Representative, Evans Liyosi described the commissioning of the lab as a laudable venture aimed at increasing testing in the Bombali district and its immediate environs.
He commended partners for supporting the rehabilitation of the lab and assured of WHO’s continuous support to Sierra Leone.
Director of Laboratory, Diagnostics and Blood Services, Prof. Sahr Moses Gavao stated that when the Ebola virus struck in 2014, there was only one lab in the country which was stationed in the eastern province to perform molecular lab testing for the Ebola virus.
He said the capacity of that laboratory became overwhelm by numerous samples that were sent for testing, adding that because of increase in the number of cases, sixteen (16) Molecular Laboratories were established and manned by international partners across the country.