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National Laboratory: Building Capacity For Better Services

Today, health professionals are able get accurate and reliable information about the health of a patient through advanced laboratory technology. This has contributed significantly in diagnosis, preventing and treating patients depending on the result of the testing provided by the lab. The Eritrean National Laboratory is also striving to develop the capacity of labs alongside the all-round medical development efforts to deliver best health services. Modern equipments have been introduced and manpower capacity is improving from time to time. Besides, medical experiments and testes which were previously sent abroad for lab examination are now conducted in the country. Shabait conducted an interview with Mr. Samuel Sahle, Eritrean Lab Coordinator, as regards the activities of the National Health Laboratory of Eritrea.

Would please brief us with the background of the National laboratory?

During the armed struggle, this National Laboratory was first known us as Central Laboratory, located in a place called Orotta. Following post-independence period, this lab was transformed as the National Laboratory in Asmara. We have laboratories in all regions of the country, but this laboratory serves as the country’s referral lab. Its main task is to perform lab examination that can’t be carried out in other labs.  It also serves as quality control to keep the standard of lab in Eritrea. Furthermore, this National Lab is a center of training.  It has various departments including micro-biology, food and drink examination, chemical analysis and hematology.  

Can you tell us about the progress this lab has made so far?

We have been introducing new modern equipments and reached the needed standard. Some of them are DNA and biochemistry polymerase chain reaction (PCR) lab. This is vital to identify diseases easily and for screening. Lab examinations for fertility and Goiter were previously sent abroad. We were collaborating with Washington University for lab examinations that could not be performed here, but this was only temporary. With the introduction of new equipments and upgraded manpower such lab examinations are carried out here and lab examinations sent abroad are gradually decreasing. Besides, we have introduced chemical examination equipments. This chemical examination was undertaken even during the armed struggle with limited capacity. At present we have automated system and equipments are distributed to other referral hospital so as to decentralize the system.

How about the development of manpower capacity?

At first skilled manpower was very limited and there were only few experts in this field during the armed struggle. Training courses were organized to upgrade by the technicians who joined the revolution. In 1975s people were sent to Sudan to learn and those and others were giving training to others. In the post-independence period courses were given at diploma level and later on this was promoted to degree level. Gradually, most of the current employees in technician laboratory have taken courses in university. Workshops are organized by foreign experts and others are sent abroad to study. Thus, manpower capacity is increasing alongside the introduction of new modern equipments which have a major role to play in improving the quality of health institutions and the services they render.


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