Evolution of Zoonotic and EVD Responses in Sierra Leone-Laboratory Capacity Strengthening at Njala University

When Ebola first hit Sierra Leone on 24 May 2014, the country struggled to stem the outbreak. There was difficulty running the project through Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), which led to the establishment of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC). This initiative developed the principles and operational model for strong regional, district and local collaboration, transforming NERC into Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) with minimum attention to country-led laboratory capacity strengthening. Health laboratory services are essential for the efficient delivery of quality and cost-effective healthcare. Training in laboratory services has long been a neglected part of the health system in Sierra Leone. Perceived by the fact that it is one of the eight core capacities of the International Health Regulations, necessitated the urgency for this project at Njala University. The laboratory system is crucial for rapid detection and safe sample management, timely and accurate sample testing and timely results communication. Less attention is given to building capacity of laboratories in the second and third tier institutions to enable rapid diagnosis for possible emerging diseases in the country. The Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE) in Ghana has, therefore, provided a 22-month project support otherwise known as the “Post-Ebola Resilience Project.” In keeping with the activities for the work package 2 (WP2), training has been accomplished on Bio-safety, Bio-security and Good Laboratory Practices for laboratory staff. Ethical approval for mini projects on Ebola, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever; Rabies and Influenza have been received from the Njala University Institutional Review Board (NUIRB). Staff involved at Njala University is actively working together, further reinforcing the One Health Concept by focusing on both human and animal health and its interface.

Author(s): Bashar Koroma, Roland Suluku, Linda Oskam, Kwadwo Koram, Kofi Bonney and William Ampofo

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