DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE SHEEP BLOOD SUPPLY FOR THE THREE PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES (PHLs) IN GHANA
The use of appropriate quality materials and reagents for bacteriological cultures is key to bacterial growth, identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Over the years, public sector laboratories in Ghana have relied on the use of expired human blood from the blood banks for the preparation of blood and chocolate agar. The use of human blood not only poses safety risk to laboratory personnel but contains antibodies, antitoxins, or antimicrobial agents that inhibit growth of bacteria.
This practice which affects the quality of bacteriological testing has been widely attributed to the lack of funding to procure sheep blood, lack of reliable vendors who supply sterile sheep blood and the lack of expertise of laboratory personnel to collect sheep blood where sheep are available. Earlier discussions between the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Division of Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the National Veterinary Service to find a lasting solution to this provided some suggestions.
As part of strengthening the microbiology diagnostic capacity of the Public Health Laboratories (PHLs) to be able to efficiently collect, diagnose and report disease of public health importance, it is important that capacity is built among the PHLs to provide the opportunity and a backbone for the implementation of a sustainable plan for consistent supply of sterile sheep blood. To achieve this, Center for Health System Strengthening (CfHSS), a health-based Ghanaian NGO, partnered with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) in USA to develop a sustainable and affordable short-medium strategy to set up sheep farms for each public health laboratory and train laboratory personnel to collect these samples under safe and hygienic conditions.
In line with implementing this strategy, CfHSS organized a 3-day workshop in collaboration with the GHS, APHL, CDC and the Central Veterinary Laboratory at Pong Tamale to build the capacity of laboratory personnel on setting up sheep farms and collecting sheep blood using standard and sterile conditions. The workshop was organized from the 4th – 6th June, 2018 at the Central Veterinary Laboratory, Pong Tamale. The workshop was attended by 12 participants comprising of 9 laboratory personnel from the three PHLs (Kumasi Public Health Laboratory, Sekondi Public Health Laboratory and Tamale Public Health Laboratory) and 3 directors of the veterinary services department from Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale.
Participants from the Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale Public Health Laboratories and the veterinary services departments at the workshop.
The participants undertook field activities at the sheep breeding station of the Veterinary Services Department, Pong Tamale. The field work was led by Dr. Emmanuel Allegye-Cudjoe (a senior lecturer and researcher at the department) and supported by technicians at the Department. Participants were taken through practical steps in the collection of sheep blood using standard operating procedures generated by the veterinary services. The training was organized in such a way that every participating member of the laboratory team had a hands-on experience with sheep blood collection.
Dr. Emmanuel Allegye-Cudjoe educating participants on step to take in collection of sheep blood.
A participant from Sekondi laboratory learning how to collect sheep blood.
CfHSS is most grateful to the leadership of GHS and the National Public Health Reference Laboratory for their continuous support and leadership. We are grateful to the US Centers for Disease Control and the Association of Public Health Laboratories for supporting the Ghana Public Health laboratories. We are also thankful to all the training participants for their commitment and dedication to this training.