KENYA – The Kenyan National Public Health Laboratory has been granted ISO accreditation and is set to play a critical role in the generation of critical data to guide in the development of public health policies.

Speaking during celebrations to mark the achievement of ISO accreditation status and other milestones that elevate the National Public Health Reference Lab to international standards, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the facility has a great potential to contribute to biomedical research and clinical trial studies.

“It is on this basis that I have directed Head of the Department of Laboratory Services through the Office of the Director-General for Health to identify critical research areas that NPHL can collaborate with other research institutes such as KEMRI, ILRI and various local and international Universities to provide bench space and diagnostics capacity that can be used by different collaborators,” said the health CS.

According to Kagwe, proper diagnosis of diseases remains a key challenge in the provision of proper care to patients across the globe adding that diagnostic data is critical for patient management and for the prevention of diseases.

The health CS says the critical role of NPHL has been evident during the covid-19 pandemic with the lab coordinating all aspects of COVID-19 testing across the country

Mr Kagwe says the critical role of NPHL has been evident during the covid-19 pandemic with the lab coordinating all aspects of COVID-19 testing across the country besides playing a leading role in the fight against the disease through provision of quality assurance panels and coordination of allocation and distribution of commodities to various COVID-19 testing laboratories in Kenya.

This support has allowed Kenya to rapidly increase testing sites from the initial one site in March 2020 to 95 sites currently testing for COVID-19 using PCR methods, and another 461 sites testing for COVID-19 using Rapid Antigen kits,” observed the CS.

Speaking at the same event, health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache commended NPHL team for their efforts in ensuring that the National Public Health Laboratory acquire ISO accredited certification.

Five of the 8 national reference labs at National Public Health Lab are now fully ISO accredited. They include; National HIV reference lab, National Microbiology Reference Lab, National TB Reference Lab, National Food Safety Reference Lab and the National Malaria Reference Lab.

The National Public Health Laboratory also holds and analyses the highest volumes of samples for HIV viral load, HIV drug resistance testing, TB culture and drug profiling, malaria screening, cancer marker, microbial drug resistance profiling among others.

The laboratory was the first facility to test and confirm a COVID-19 case in Kenya. Since then, it has coordinated all aspects of COVID-19 testing nationally and analyzed more than 2.3 million samples for COVID-19.

The NPHL which operates under the Ministry of Health plays a critical role in healthcare through the provision of reference testing for key diseases and in the response to disease outbreaks in the Country and the region.

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