Gaborone, Botswana – 13 April 2018: The Deputy Permanent Secretary and Director of Clinical Services, in the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Ms Thandie Kgosiesele, today, hosted a team from WHO, led by Dr Charles Byabamazima from the WHO Regional Office for Africa, which was in the country to brief the Ministry Management on the results of the review for accreditation of the country’s National Measles Laboratory. Botswana’s National Health Laboratory hosts the National Measles Laboratory.
The 2018 review results revealed an accuracy assessment of 90% (WHO QC and EQA), and an 82% specimen turnaround (against a minimum target of 80%). It was noted that the specimen turnaround could have been higher had it not been for the global shortage of Measles Rubella (MR) test kits which is affecting most countries. The WHO African Region set 2020 for the measles elimination and Botswana is one of the few countries in the African region that has sustained its Measles elimination status for the past 7 years.
The laboratory has had numerous onsite accreditation processes every 2-3 years. The last one was done in 2013 followed by this latest one that was conducted last week. The country’s National Lab reports weekly to Ministry of Health and Wellness and the WHO. These regular reports reflected a track record of impressive performance in quality control, timeliness and other indictors.
Dr Byabamazima stated that although the accreditation results are impressive for a National Measles Laboratory in a developing country, and whilst Botswana is on the right track towards measles eradication, there are still some persisting challenges in the laboratory that requires immediate attention to strengthen quality. The areas cited include quality management, biosafety and HR retention policy, including retention of WHO trained staff.
The country introduced Measles Dose 2 vaccine in 2011 and further more introduced the Measles Rubella vaccine in 2016. This followed a series of Measles and Rubella outbreaks within Southern Africa region between 2009 and2011. However, it is quite commendable that the country has maintained its measles elimination indicators since then.
On the debrief session to the MoHw, Dr Byabamazima was accompanied by Dr Elias Alemu and Ms Bakanuki Nfila from the Botswana WHO office.