New in-country COVID-19 testing now allows for early intervention in Kiribati

Suva

The newly established RT-PCR molecular container laboratory in Kiribati has achieved its final validation from the Doherty Institute in December indicating readiness in the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 and the application of its technology.

This final validation achievement comes at a critical time where in country testing of COVID-19 has allowed for early intervention and decision making, especially at a time where Kiribati has confirmed 36 COVID-19 cases in this past week.

Kiribati Laboratory Manager Rosemary Tekoaua said that the long trainings sessions to achieve final validation before COVID-19 reached their shores was important. “We have learned so much from this training as it allowed our national laboratory services to be ready for rapid diagnosis of emerging infectious diseases especially COVID-19. Testing in country and not having to rely on overseas reference labs has strengthened our preparedness and response plans”.

The Pacific community’s (SPC) Public Health Division has played an active role over the past year assisting the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services with strengthening their laboratory capacity with establishing a container laboratory, the purchase of equipment, laboratory staff training, and on-going support, also provided by Doherty Institute and the Pacific Pathology Training Centre (PPTC).

Director for SPC’s Public Health Division Dr Berlin Kafoa says that from the onset of the pandemic the division has been working in the region to support, build and enhance laboratory’s capabilities to test COVID-19 in country.

“It has been challenging trying to achieve required laboratory standards whereby most of the work has been conducted remotely. But we have been successful with Kiribati for instance and even Cook Islands”.

The Kiribati RT-PCR molecular container laboratory has been made possible with funding support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The refurbished container lab and the RT-PCR equipment, reagents and consumables are funded by DFAT, and additional reagents, and consumables were provided by New Zealand’s Pacific Pathology Training Centre (PPTC) through MFAT funding.

Media contact(s):
Tebuka Toatu, Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network Lab net Coordinator, Public Health Division (PHD), Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]
Evlyn Mani, Communications Officer, Public Health Division (PHD), Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]

About SPC:
The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organisation in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories.  
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