Lab technicians being trained for COVID-19 molecular detection

─ regional and private lab technicians engaged

─ training made possible through Health Ministry, PHAO/WHO collaboration

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A wide cross-section of medical laboratory technologists, from both the Public and Private Sectors, are engaged in a two-day virtual training for COVID-19 molecular detection.

This training exercise, which runs from August 18-19, is facilitated through a collaboration between the Ministry of Health and PAHO/WHO following recent fruitful discussions between these two entities.

The exercise will be hosted by Dr. Lionel Gresh, who is a virologist, in the Infectious Hazard Management, Department of Health Emergencies, PAHO/WHO in Washington DC.

Molecular detection speaks to a collection of techniques used to analyse biological markers. In this case, building specialised capacity to do more PCR testing in Guyana.

Among participants are representatives from the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL), Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), Suddie, West Demerara, Lethem and Linden Regional Hospitals, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), and other public health facilities. Trainees from the private health facilities are from Eureka Medical Laboratory, Medical Art Medical Centre and Davis Memorial Hospital.

Specific areas of focus include COVID-19 laboratory-based surveillance, principles of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) while hands-on training will commence shortly.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony, in his remarks at the commencement of the training exercise, noted that it will ensure there is the capacity for COVID-19 testing at regional and private health facilities which is an appropriate response to the pandemic.

Minister Anthony said upon coming into office, a quick analysis of the country’s capacity to conduct mass testing of the virus was done.

“We have a human resource problem. We do not have enough persons with the capacity to do the PCR testing… If we don’t have the people, we won’t be able to scale up testing,” he explained.

Therefore, the training exercise aims to qualify more persons to ensure there is a faster turnaround time for results. The trainees will complete a practical rotation component at the NPHRL.

PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow noted that this is one way in which quality laboratory services will be taken to the various regions. It will also address the backlog in cases which need to be cleared and provide results in a timelier manner.

“Persons have had their tests [done], but for days they cannot receive their results, and that is emotionally crushing, and that is what this training will correct,” he said.

The activity is in keeping with the push, by the Ministry of Health, to ramp up testing to ascertain the actual COVID-19 situation in Guyana.

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