APHL is collaborating with CDC and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) to strengthen national laboratory systems to prepare for and respond to Ebola and other highly infectious disease threats.
In Sierra Leone, APHL-ASLM consultant Isatta Wurie, PhD, is leading efforts to strengthen laboratory capacity and renovate the central laboratory. She has developed laboratory SOPs, supported implementation of a specimen referral system and implemented quality assurance practices at mobile testing centers run by donor nations. In additions, she has and developed a unified laboratory implementation plan to enable international aid workers to quickly identify how to support a single, integrated strategy for delivery of laboratory services.
APHL is also assisting ASLM and the African Public Health Laboratory Network to:
- Improve surveillance, communications, coordination and information sharing to enable quick response to emerging disease threats
- Implement data repositories for capacity and capability mapping of member laboratories
- Ensure access to specialized testing capacity made available across the network
- Coordinate action on new global and regional policy priorities
- Collaborate for research initiatives and share relevant data
- Facilitate cross-training and assessments to raise all laboratories to standardized levels of capacity and readiness
- Identify new resource opportunities
Current Testing Capability
Currently over 55 US public health laboratories can conduct testing for the Ebola Zaire virus using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) tests deployed through the Laboratory Response Network. View a video from the Texas State Public Health Laboratory, which detected the first case of Ebola in the US, to learn more about testing methods for the virus.
Laboratory capacity to respond to Ebola was strengthened through federal funding of $5.4 billion allocated as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. For information on the breakdown in spending, see FY 2015 Ebola Federal Funding: Congressional Increases and Program Support on the Global Regulatory Enforcement Law Blog
2014-2015 APHL Ebola Response
During the height of the Ebola response in 2014-2015, APHL provided situational updates and technical assistance to public health laboratories. The association developed a template to assist laboratories in conducting risk assessments of their facilities and other laboratory guidance documents for clinical and public health laboratories. In addition, APHL worked with state and local public health laboratories to prepare them to conduct Ebola testing and to respond to questions from clinical laboratories in their jurisdictions.
Outside the US, APHL worked with CDC and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) to stand up the African Public Health Laboratory Network and explore ways to build laboratory capacity on the continent. APHL facilitated a training on testing for the Ebola Zaire virus at the ASLM meeting in Cape Town in 2014 and collaborated with ASLM to develop a webpage and African Public Health Laboratories Network Listserv to share information related to the Ebola outbreak.