Establishing Regional Animal and Plant Health Laboratory

The government of Eritrea has been making efforts to rehabilitate the infrastructure of the National Animal and Plant Health Laboratory (NAPHL) and equip it with high technology and equipment. NAPHL, which is run by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), provides various animal and plant disease diagnosis services to all departments of the MoA, including the Agricultural Extension Department, the Regulatory Services Department and the National Agricultural Research Institute; all regional animal and plant health laboratories, colleges, research centers; and relevant public and private stakeholders.

As animal and plant health security is critical for the protection and enhancement of the nation’s prosperity and people’s wellbeing, the MoA works to develop a more integrated, whole-system approach to animal and plant health science. By re-establishing animal and plant health laboratory the MoA took major steps in securing animal, plant as well as human health.

The goal is to establish regional animal and plant health laboratories in five regions — Anseba, Debub, Northern Red Sea, Gash-Barka and Southern Rea Sea – to let the regions acquire functional animal and plant health laboratories on some selected diagnostic techniques. The regional laboratories are to serve as satellite laboratories and the NAPHL as a national referral laboratory.

The intervention for the rehabilitation of the regional laboratories was done in three phases.

In the first phase, an assessment was conducted in August 2019 in six regions to determine problems in the laboratories associated with human capacity, administrative matters, infrastructure and other related factors with a view to strengthening the overall performance of the laboratories.

Based on the results of the assessment done in phase one, NAPHL decided to rehabilitate in the first round laboratories in five regions — Anseba, Gash- Barka, Debub, Southern Red Sea and Northern Red Sea — by taking into account the amount of agricultural activities in the region and how remotely they are located to access laboratory services.

In phase three, training was given to 36 regional laboratory staff on basic principles and techniques of animal and plant disease diagnosis. The training, which was given in December 2019 at the premises of NAPHL, aimed at familiarizing the regional laboratory staff with laboratory manners and diagnostic techniques.

The rehabilitation of the regional laboratories, which lasted from March 2020 to April 2021, included the overall setting-up of the laboratories, including the installation of new equipment, and onsite training of the regional experts on methods of sample handling, preservation and selected diagnostic techniques.

So far 33 regional laboratory technicians have processed 480 samples on both animal and plant samples. More than 400 farmers have benefitted from the services given by the laboratories.

The laboratories give animal and plant disease diagnosis and treatment services to farmers in their regions and prompt laboratory diagnostic results to the Regulatory Service Department, which allows it to take corrective measures.

NAPHL has to-date rehabilitated five regional laboratories that are giving reliable services. It was established in 1903 and is known as one of the oldest laboratories in East Africa.