As Uganda’s health sector moves to improve services to its citizens, it is now ready to handle Early Infant HIV Diagnosis (EID) tests, sickle cell, Hepatitis, bacteriology teasting and the Viral Load Testing Laboratory (VLTD). This is due to the accreditation received from the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) on 1st February this year.
The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine, says that this accreditation has given Uganda National Health laboratories (UNHLS), an international recognition and respect. It has brought confidence to this laboratory for patient diagnosis and monitoring. “The results are considered one and the same as those from any standard laboratories in Europe or America. We can now attract a full range of researches and researchers for accreditation,” she added.
Laboratory services allow proper disease diagnosis, monitoring and control. This contributes 70% of the decisions made in patient management and in disease prevention. It is one of the best priorities the Ministry has had, Atwine said.
UNHLS Executive Director, Steven Aisu, said, “Attaining this international accreditation is a very big milestone in Uganda’s health sector. We now expect to conduct all tests from the country and also from outside Uganda.” The quality will be maintained since we have professional workers, who have attained the International Standard ISO 15189-2012, Aisu said.
Other health specialists have showed their gratitude to UNHLS for this achievement saying that strong and recognized laboratory will give solutions and systems to control new emerging diseases such as; Ebola, swine flu, Marburg Fever and Congo Crimean, the latter having symptoms like Marburg..
The chances of the Preventions of Mother to Child HIV Transmissions (MTCT), are reducing since now, out ten infants, only two have. In past five years it was 8:2, which has now changed to a 10:00 ratio.
As a result Uganda has won seven continental awards between 2012 and 2016 for good practices and innovations. Such is the national specimen referral system, which has attracted many countries to come to sample the referral system’s network. This has opened doors for Uganda’s laboratory specialists to go and support some countries which are struggling. As Atwine Diana noted; “A UNHLS team is already providing technical assistance to Sierra Leone to help them set up their own functional EID, viral laboratories and referral network.
Diana Atwine who was the guest of honor said,” The achievement will attract more modern technologies and widen range and scope of services this lab offers for example a group has already contacted us wishing to place modern “state of the art” drug resistance technologies under the roof of UNHLS”
She added that six more laboratories at Regional Referrals Hospitals and General Hospital level are earmarked for accreditation before the end of 2017. Eventually, 100 hub laboratories countrywide will attain this accreditation.