Republic of Kenya receives Mobile Labs from the EAC Secretariat
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 21st May, 2020: The Republic of Kenya on Wednesday received two mobile laboratories from the East African Community Secretariat as part of regional efforts to contain COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Kenya’s EAC Affairs and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Adan Mohammed, handed over the mobile labs on behalf of the EAC Secretary General, Amb Liberat Mfumukeko, to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Hon. Mutahi Kagwe.
The Mobile Laboratory Project is an initiative of the EAC Secretariat and is being funded by the Republic of Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) and the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNIT).
Receiving the labs at the Ministry of Health Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr Kagwe disclosed that one mobile lab would be stationed at Namanga on the Kenya-Tanzania border and the other at the Naivasha dry port on the Nairobi-Malaba Highway.
“In addition, we are also receiving mobile lab accessories, consumables, PPE, ICT (laptops, satellite phones) and electrical systems,” said the CS, adding that the EAC Regional Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories was a key pillar in strengthening the region’s capacity to diagnose infectious diseases.
“These labs will strengthen each Partner States’ capacity in this area. To achieve all this, the EAC Secretariat has overseen the procurement of mobile lab units, training of laboratory experts to operationalize these units and are scheduled to cascade knowledge transfer in order to build a critical mass of scientists across the country,” he added.
Mr. Kagwe noted that the mobile labs were equipped with modern equipment such as PCR and ELISA machines that are able to diagnose most pathogens causing communicable diseases such as Ebola and COVID-19.
“They have a combined capacity to support 2,000 tests per day and couldn’t have come at a better time to complement the existing laboratory network,” he said.
In his remarks, EAC Affairs CS Adan Mohammed, disclosed that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany had availed 23 million Euros to the EAC Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for the supply of equipment and capacity building health professionals charged with the responsibility of combating communicable diseases in the region.
Mr. Mohammed said that Kenya and other EAC Partner States continue to implement the existing EAC protocols to ensure that the region is cushioned from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We continue to provide policy guidance to ensure regional trade continues uninterrupted. We have enhanced surveillance along the transit corridors by carrying out screening of truck drivers and crew at the One Stop Borders Posts and designated weighbridges by increasing the health screening personnel.
The CS noted that the crisis was impacting negatively on regional economies by disrupting the regional trading system, industry and financial markets and called for cooperation among EAC Partner States to conquer the virus.
“We must therefore strengthen our trade bond and utilize the principle of comparative advantage to keep regional trade going. EAC must remain together to defeat this disease for our common good,’ said the CS.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, German Ambassador to Kenya Annett Gunther said that the labs would boost Kenya’s testing capacity for COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is a crisis that tests us on how we treat ourselves. We can only beat the pandemic when we work together,” she said.
Amb. Gunther disclosed that the training of health workers would commence next week.
In addition to the mobile laboratories, the EAC Secretariat has also been providing COVID-19 reagents to the Partner States to better facilitate the testing and management of the coronavirus pandemic.