Health Ministry Receives EU-IGAD Mobile Laboratory to Strengthen Medical Surveillance in Remote Areas

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The Ministry of Health has received a fully equipped mobile laboratory truck worth Shs700m from the European Union (EU) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The mobile laboratory will enhance the ministry’s capacity to conduct medical surveillance in remote and cross-border areas.

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday 26th July 2023 received a fully equipped mobile laboratory truck worth Shs700m to handle medical surveillance in remote and cross-border areas.

The mobile laboratory was handed over to the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Margaret Muhanga, by the Deputy Ambassador of the EU in Uganda, Guilaume Chartrain and witnessed by officials from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Muhanga said at the handover ceremony that the mobile equipment will strengthen the capacity of the ministry in conducting the medical surveillance as samples will no longer be required to be brought to facilities in Kampala or Entebbe but will be handled at the nearest locations.

“We remember at the beginning COVID-19 samples used to be brought to Kampala for testing before the enhancement of capacity at that time. Equipment like this mobile laboratory will help to boost capacity and help to handle surveillance at the source or nearest point,” said Muhanga.

She noted that other risks associated with patients travelling far distances for testing are also going to be avoided.

“We also remember that some people suspected of having COVID-19 or ebola used public means in some instances, hence endangering many people. A mobile laboratory will address such risks,” she added.

Ambassador Chartrain said health crises, like COVID-19, necessitated a collective global response.

“By improving access to quality health services, especially in remote areas, this mobile lab represents an innovative response to that challenge, increasing our collective resilience and preparedness for current and future health crises,” he said.

The EU-IGAD Response Program Health Expert, Dr. Hamid Idrees, said the mobile laboratory will also help in sample referral from cross-border areas.

“The mobile laboratory IGAD is donating today from the EU generous fund worth EUR 167,300 about UGX 700 million, is to strengthen surveillance and help sample referral from cross-border areas to the nearest lab for testing,” he said.

He noted that the biggest beneficiaries are going to be those in the remote areas without near access to laboratory services during health emergencies.

“It will also help health care workers serve people in remote areas who do not have good access to lab service especially during health emergencies,” he added.

Previously IGAD from the EU – IGAD COVID19 response program provided 3 ambulances, assortment of medical supplies, to Arua and Moroto regional referral hospitals to improve the lab services and surveillance system at regional level.

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