Laboratory Systems

eHealth Africa renovates Njala University research center with CDC funding

eHealth Africa (eHA) in partnership with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has renovated the  Njala University research center at Tiwai Island, in a drive to support one-health surveillance activities in Sierra Leone. The project was funded by CDC, with the objective of improving knowledge and infrastructure capacity at Njala University research center to perform routine Ebola and infectious disease surveillance.

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Research began on Tiwai Island in the early 1980s, with studies on primates, other mammals, forest dynamics etc. This research was vital for disease and one-health surveillance activities as Sierra Leone, ebola virus disease outbreak was traced to bats and primates. However, over the years, the facility had fallen into disrepair and was unusable. Renovation of the Tiwai Island research center commenced in November 2018. eHA has now completed renovations on the entire campus including storage room; kitchen, meeting areas, and dormitories. The facilities were equipped with solar power, which now provides uninterrupted power on a daily basis, solar powered water supply in order to ensure adequate water supply during the dry season.

Those who had visited the Tiwai Research Center before now, would agree with me that there is much difference after the renovation. We are happy that this facility is now ready for use. Communities and stakeholders associated with Tiwai are very grateful. This was made possible through funding from the CDC and renovations by eHealth Africa.
— Dr. Lebbie, Head of Department of Biological Science, Njala University- Head of the Njala Research Center
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CDC has been working with Njala since the Ebola outbreak. CDC has a strong relationship with the Njala team and helping them to have more capacity to do testing to look for viruses, including the Ebola virus that caused the outbreak here. We are looking for other viruses that are in the environment so that we can know more about our environment, learn to live safely with it, and prevent outbreaks from happening. We want to prevent disease outbreaks, and we’re doing that by helping the people of Sierra Leone find those viruses themselves – to study them here so that they don’t rely on outside help. We have seen great success with Njala University and their team doing this work here. CDC is eager to continue to support that effort because we’re so impressed by what’s been done already.
— Dr. Brigette Gleason, Surveillance and Program Lead CDC Sierra Leone Country Office

These renovated structures go to benefit not only Njala University students and faculty and  Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), but also international researchers.

We will be inviting international auditors who will be resident here to do research; and through that, job opportunities would be opened to the community.’
— Dr Lebbie

Partnering to Address Sickle Cell Disease in Northern Nigeria

By Muhammed Hassan

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nigeria alone accounts for more than 100,000 new sickle cell births every year1. Statistics from African region of the World Health Organization (WHO) puts the prevalence of the Sickle cell trait in Nigeria at 20% to 30%2. In sub-Saharan Africa, very few control programs exist and those that do exist, lack national coverage or the facilities to manage patients. Proactive, routine screening for sickle cell disease is not common practice so diagnosis is usually made when a severe complication occurs.

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At eHealth Africa, we aim to improve the quality and availability of healthcare for underserved populations and to increase access to timely and quality diagnostic services. We partnered with Sickle Cell Well Africa Foundation (SCWAF), Pro-Health International and the Presidential Committee on the North- East Initiative (PCNI) to hold a two-week outreach in Bajoga LGA, Gombe state, and Toro LGA in Bauchi State from the 2nd-16th December 2018.

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The team hosted community and school outreaches in both LGAs. Beneficiaries of the outreaches in both LGAs were educated about Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), inheritance, signs and symptoms, and the importance of genotype testing for SCD and prevention. Free genotype tests were conducted using the Sickle Scan Rapid Test Kit.

Patients who tested positive for SCD and those who presented with severe complications were given routine medication, advised on first-level crisis management and referred to tertiary hospitals. eHealth Africa captured, stored and analyzed the results of the tests. The analyses provided insight into the geographic distribution of patient and the average age distribution of patients who tested positive for SCD and the categories of complications presented at the outreach.

eHealth Africa, Pro-Health and SCWAF presented these results at stakeholder meetings in both states and provided evidence-based recommendations to enable the states to tackle Sickle Cell Disease. Going forward, eHA intends to work with Pro-Health to develop a comprehensive data collection tool which will support tracking and follow up of SCD patients in Prohealth Sickle Cell Clinics.

The Impact:

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Post-Ebola Liberia: eHealth Africa strengthens laboratories in readiness for future infectious disease outbreak

Prior to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014, the Liberia public health laboratory system had weak capacity to detect, report and respond to public health emergencies. In order to fulfill our mission to build stronger health systems, eHealth Africa (eHA) supported Liberia’s laboratory system from 2014 - 2018. eHA’s lab support program has improved effectiveness of the laboratory system by providing human capacity support for four years, as well as improved electronic submission of lab reports by providing internet connectivity at priority labs (ELWA, Redemption, LIBR & Bong) since 2014.

Test samples in an eHA supported priority lab in Liberia

Test samples in an eHA supported priority lab in Liberia

The Bong lab is situated at the Phebe Hospital Compound, Bong County. In October 2014, it was one of the regional laboratories selected by Liberia’s Ministry of Health (MOH), the United States Navy (US Navy) and other partners for testing suspected Ebola samples as part of the fight against the 2014 West Africa EVD outbreak. The Bong lab and other identified priority labs faced a few similar capacity challenges, including the lack of skilled staff, lack of adequate equipment and poor internet connectivity. eHA provided lab support by developing technology for capturing of lab data, provided internet connectivity to enable the labs submit the data electronically and also provided human capacity support, including recruitment and training of lab desk officers.

Roberto Koimenee is one of the four lab desk officers that eHA worked with via the laboratory support program. He is deployed at Bong Lab to enter Ebola virus disease (EVD) data and report daily samples test results to the Liberia’s Ministry of Health and eHealth Africa.

From Roberto
‘’I got involved with eHealth Africa-Liberia through an application and CV submission during the Ebola outbreak in September, 2014 in Liberia. I was called by eHA for an interview which was followed by training as a Lab Desk Officer. I was assigned to Bong EVD Lab. I was motivated to work in the lab because I wanted to help in the fight against Ebola in Liberia. Since eHealth is a technology driven company, with my knowledge in data management, I decided to help in this fight against Ebola by entering data from samples tested and submit report for decision making at the National level.

I have more than eight years of experience as an Administrative staff and four years of experience as a data officer at eHealth Africa-Liberia, where I have won some performance awards. I love managing database and solving data issues. I am a person who thrives to work out things when it’s difficult to do and work independently to solve complicated problems”, he explains.  

I participated in a three-day training conducted by eHA and this training impacted my life and work by increasing my knowledge in the following topics: Sample handling storage, and processing; Confidentiality/Document control, Data entry and analysis. Today, I know how to control and secure patient information and report accurate and reliable results to requisite and identified individuals responsible to receive said information or results.

The part of the training I like the most was the off-line tracker although it has not been fully utilized by Bong Lab. The off-line tracker is so unique in that it tracks all data or information in all the four (4) regional labs in the country (Liberia). Each lab can see and access information including reports/results of specimen tested. This system can be used without internet. However, that training especially the off-line tracker needs to be fully utilized for the safety, reliable and secure of lab information/data.

Although I worked with other institutions before eHealth Africa came to Liberia, but life was not too good for me and my family. My salary was too small to cover all my expenses including undertaking house construction project. But after I was employed by eHA, my salary was encouraging that enable me and my family to live better life.’’

Roberto’s wife, Christiana Hne Koimenee, believes her husband made a good decision working for eHA in the fight against Ebola in Liberia, even though she expressed fear over her husband doing one of the riskiest jobs, and comes to the conclusion it was worth it.

‘’It was sad and worrisome for individuals like my husband to be at the frontline to test Ebola specimen. But it was also historical for him and those who stood firm to help in the process of fighting Ebola in Liberia.”
— Christiana Hne Koimenee
Roberto Koimenee and family

Roberto Koimenee and family