Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio upgraded with US$3.3m Japanese assistance
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL) for Polio has been upgraded with assistance from Japan through a grant worth US$ 3.3 million.
The support will boost Pakistan’s capacity to swiftly track and respond to the polio virus. The laboratory currently tests more than 30,000 stool samples and 950 environmental samples for polio a year from Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the global effort to end virus circulation in both polio endemic nations.
The assistance from the Government of Japan has helped procure essential molecular-biology equipment for the laboratory including genetic analysers, real-time thermal cylinders, incubators and freezers. The grant has also been used to replace aging stocks of cold chain materials, reagents and other essential equipment.
“This lab is now one of the largest and best surveillance networks in the world for polio. A well-functioning laboratory is critical for ensuring successful surveillance in place to detect and respond to outbreaks,” shared by Dr. Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan.
“This prestigious and high tech lab supports the largest surveillance network for polio which enabling country programmes to generate required response efficiently,” Dr. Palitha added.
Representatives from the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) ceremoniously handed over this equipment during a ceremony held here at the National Institute for Health (NIH) on Friday.
Participants were briefed by the National Coordinator, Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar on strategies and approaches being implemented in the country to push the Polio virus back during 2020. ‘Polio eradication is being promoted as a shared responsibility and response of different segments during last two campaigns has been very encouraging’ he said. – APP
Speaking at the ceremony, the Secretary of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Dr. Allah Bakhash Malik said, “The support of the Government of Japan has been vital to Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio. Recent enhancements to the Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL) will further up-build our capacity to effectively tackle the associated risks in timely manner.”
Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, the President of JICA also spoke at the ceremony. “I am delighted that our grant is being utilized effectively in this Regional Reference Laboratory.” – APP