Juba, 18 October 2019: To enhance capacities for timely confirmation and prompt response to emerging disease outbreaks, South Sudan is establishing molecular testing capacities for influenza and other high-threat infectious diseases like Ebola virus disease (EVD), Yellow Fever, Marburg virus disease (MVD) and Rift Valley Fever (RVF).
The absence of in-country capacities for molecular testing has been a significant setback for prompt initiation of recommended public health responses to influenza outbreaks and other emerging threats. This gap prompted WHO Regional Office for Africa to fund procurement of a Real-Time Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine.
“This is very exciting and a big step forward for South Sudan”, says Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan. “The National Public Health Laboratory has successfully tested two cases from Nimule with an average turnaround time of four hours from the receipt of the samples to reporting of results. This is a milestone in the country’s capacity reducing the time for diagnosis from days to hours.”
Diagnosing infectious diseases using PCR offers conclusive test results to support prompt initiation of recommended public health response. It also reduces the cost of transporting samples outside the country; and enhances national compliance to the International Health Regulations (2005) core capacities.
With the installation of the PCR machine, South Sudan is able to perform confirmatory testing for influenza, EVD and other high threat diseases, thus putting the country at par with other countries in the region.,
Real-time PCR technology options are increasingly being used in resource-limited settings because they are faster and have higher output.
As part of its efforts to strengthen the National Public Health Laboratory, WHO is providing ongoing mentoring and support of laboratory staff as testing methodologies and processes are setup. WHO will also support the establishment of a Laboratory Quality Management System for the molecular laboratory in South Sudan.
Since the declaration of EVD outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a total of 92 alerts have been reported and tested in South Sudan using GeneXpert, of which 45 met case definitions, tested negative by GeneXpert in South Sudan and were sent to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) for confirmatory testing, once again all tested negative for EVD.
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