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Targeting world class laboratory services for the people of the Pacific
Written by Christelle Lepers   
Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday 20 September 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia –
 

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Public health Laboratories in the Pacific Islands are very diverse in their structure and resources – ranging in size from one employee to up to a hundred – but they all aim to provide equitable and high-quality services to the people of the Pacific. 

A public health laboratory network called LabNet was established in Noumea in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to strengthen partnership and communication between regional labs to better support the Pacific Islands.

‘The role of laboratories is crucial when there is an outbreak of infectious diseases like dengue fever for example,’ said Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director of the Public Health Division at SPC.

‘Timely, accurate and reliable lab results are essential to guide the necessary interventions to reduce the impact of outbreaks on the population.’

Around 60 representatives of LabNet member countries and organisations are currently meeting at SPC Headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia, to review the strengths and weaknesses of the network.

‘There has been considerable progress in the development of national laboratory services in recent years, but challenges remain,’ said Dr Karen Nahapetyan, Technical Officer, Essential Medical Technologies at WHO.

‘Five years ago, we didn’t perform any influenza testing at home. Now we do screening tests and send samples for confirmation at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research in New Zealand,’ says Mr Douglas Tatuava Ngaeikura-Tou, Laboratory Manager in Cook Islands.

The meeting is also looking at ways to improve Pacific Islands’ laboratory quality management systems.

‘It is important to ensure steady and continuous improvement that will allow Pacific Island countries’ laboratories to offer world class service to their citizens,’ added Dr Nahapetyan.

LabNet also allows Pacific Island countries and territories to access diagnostic services and training throughout the region that they cannot afford in-country.

For more information, please contact: Christelle Lepers, Surveillance Information and Communication Officer, SPC Public Health Division (email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it – Tel.: 687 26 01 81).

Last Updated ( Friday, 20 September 2013 )