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EPHI, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, July 27, 2020.
The USAID- IDDS project hands over laboratory equipment, reagents and supplies to EPHI

3p imageThe USAID Infectious Disease Detection and Surveillance Project (IDDS) project donated a semi-automated nucleic acid purification system, UPS unit, related start-up reagents kits and other supplies to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, in support of the national COVID-19 response. The semi-automated nucleic acid purification system is in use at the National Clinical Bacteriology and Mycology Reference Laboratory, establish a testing capacity of 1,500 COVID-19 tests per day.

The Team Leader National Clinical Bacteriology and Mycology Reference Laboratory at EPHI said the semi-automated nucleic acid purification system helped improve the laboratory's COVID-19 daily testing throughput by three-folds, improved workflow and specimen processing efficiencies. With a continued supply of related reagents and consumable, the laboratory will be able to maintain an output of over 1,000 COVID-19 tests per day.

“Partnering with EPHI has proved highly effective in enhancing COVID-19 laboratory capacity at facilities engaged in Antimicrobial Resistance surveillance. This contribution, made possible with funding from USAID will not only enhance COVID-19 testing capacities at the National Clinical Bacteriology and Mycology Reference Laboratory and decentralized sites but also minimize interruption to routine AMR reference laboratory services while the laboratory is providing diagnostic services for COVID-19,” said Dr. Mamo Woldegiorgis and Mr. Rogers Kisame who earlier handed over five rented vehicles for emergency COVID-19 specimen transport to EPHI as part of the IDDS- COVID-19 support.

Dr. Geremew Tasew, Director, Bacterial, Parasitic and Zoonotic Diseases, Research Directorate and Mr. Adisu Kebede, Director, National Laboratories Capacity Building Directorate and Laboratory Section Head for the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response at EPHI extended their appreciation to the USAID-IDDS project and noted the operational improvement that will come along with the support. “While EPHI and IDDS’s partnership in strengthening microbiology/AMR surveillance laboratory capacity is fairly new, the progress made so far is commendable. We look forward to achieving greater milestones” said Dr. Geremew Tasew.
Mr. Adisu Kebede further highlighted “Although the use of semi/automated nucleic acid purification systems is often viewed to more expensive, compared to manual methods, semi/automated nucleic acid purification systems greatly improve efficiencies, testing throughput and minimize waste due to contamination associated with manual nucleic acid extraction methods. While EPHI continues to advance efforts of ensuring supply reliability for continued utilization of semi-automated/automated nucleic acid purification systems, we urge IDDS to explore opportunities of continued support for related consumables, to the extent possible.”
This donation is part of approximately US$183,000 in allocation to enhance EPHI’s efforts for strengthening COVID-19 laboratory testing capabilities in a network of IDDS supported Antimicrobial Resistance surveillance sites including, the:
• Purchase of one semi-automated nucleic acid purification system, UPS unit, and startup related reagent kits (17,920 tests) to enhance COVID-19 testing capacity; including an anticipated shipment of selected PCR consumables (1.4 million tests)- in pipeline;
• Ongoing provision of five rented vehicles for three months to support emergency COVID-19 specimen referral and distribution of critical laboratory supplies
• Purchase of 12 sets of cold chain specimen shippers and anticipated temperature tracking thermometers for enhancing COVID-19 specimen handling and transportation; and
• Ongoing development and rolling out of trainings on COVID-19 molecular laboratory techniques and practices.