STRENGTHENING THE LINKAGE BETWEEN PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES AND EPIDEMIOLOGICAL SURVEILLANCE OF PRIORITY DISEASES IN GHANA
Since 2003 when outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome occurred, the WHO and its member countries made efforts to introduce guidelines and action points to control and prevent future occurrence of epidemic prone diseases. Ghana has adopted the Integrated Disease Surveillance Response (IDSR) for implementing comprehensive public health and surveillance response system. The strategy is focused on promoting rational use of resources by integrating and streamlining common surveillance activities in order to prevent, protect, control and provide public health responses to the national and international spread of disease.
One of the key pillars of IDSR is to have a strong and efficient public health laboratory that has the capacity to identify, confirm and report priority pathogens to the appropriate units. Having a strong and efficient laboratory ensures that causative agents of diseases are identified within short turn-around times and reported to surveillance and epidemiologic units for prompt action.
Observations however show that the role of the laboratory in supporting epidemiologic surveillance of disease is often bedevilled by challenges including lack of mechanisms to transport samples to the laboratory, inappropriate collection of samples, lack of logistics to support surveillance and weak communication between laboratory personnel and disease surveillance officers.
As part of strengthening the laboratory and epidemiologic surveillance of priority pathogens, CfHSS organized a 7-day workshop in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and the Centers of Disease (CDC) to harmonise Standard Operating Procedures of the laboratory and identify ways of strengthening the linkage between epidemiologic disease surveillance and laboratory surveillance.
The workshop brought together disease surveillance officers and laboratory scientists from the Ashanti, Western and Northern regions of Ghana. Thirty (30) individuals including resource persons and CfHSS mentors attended the workshop. The workshop was graced by the Ashanti Regional Director of Health Service; Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang.
Participants who attended the 7-day workshop held at the Anita Hotel, Kumasi.
Disease surveillance officers from Ashanti Region making contributions on how best to strengthen the link between laboratory staff and disease surveillance officers
The Head of the National Public Health Laboratories; Dr. David Opare, assisting laboratory personnel from Tamale to identify challenges they often encounter with disease surveillance officers
Dr. Beverly Egyir of the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR) teaching laboratory personnel about the Double Disc Synergy method for detecting Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase producing bacteria.
A team of consultant who assisted with the review and standardization of standard operating procedures during the workshop
Group picture taken during closing of the programme. The picture was taken with the Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Emmanuel Tinkorang.