Efficient laboratory services are key to timely diagnosis and control diseases at base to prevent further and trans-border spread of diseases.
This was reiterated by the representatives of the different delegations at the opening of the regional joint meeting of the East African Public Health Laboratories Networking Project (EAPHLNP) yesterday.
The weeklong summit taking place in Kigali is set to review the progress of the project implementation of laboratory setting, identify challenges and examine the work plan for the coming year 2012/2013.
"This meeting will also examine the plan for the next 3 years of the project that was set to cover 5 years," said Dr. Odette Mukabayire, the director general of the National Reference Laboratory.
Initiated in 2010 covering 4 states; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, the project is meant to work to ensure the states have laboratories meeting international standards in order to deliver good test results.
"Laboratories are still neglected in our countries," highlighted Mukabayire. "There is need to understand that they are key to any good healthcare delivery," echoed Miriam Schneidman from the World Bank, adding that the meeting is an opportunity to improve understanding and strengthen regional collaboration in health in the East African Community.
Mukabayire pointed out that having good regional collaboration and surveillance will allow the countries to prevent and control diseases.
"The project will facilitate this by networking laboratories from all five countries, making it easier to work together. After all, diseases don't have or respect any borders", she said.
Under the project, Rwanda will see the establishment of 5 satellite laboratories, renovated or newly constructed, that will have international standards.
Martin Matu from the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community ECSA-HC, remarked that the project supports 25 laboratories, soon to be 31 with Burundi having recently joined, in the provision of equipment and supplies, infrastructure development and building the capacity of the staff.