Laboratory technicians trained to detect Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  29 March 2018.  The Zika virus in the Caribbean presented a difficult challenge, in terms of its rapid spread, its relationship to neurological anomalies and other complications among newborns and adults, and the potential for sexual transmission of the virus. Unlike many viruses, Zika requires multiple tests performed at different stages of exposure or infection depending on the case.

The CARPHA laboratory serves as the regional reference laboratory for its Member States.  One of its strategic priorities is to strengthen the health systems of CARPHA Member States through improved human resource development.

The Agency is currently serving as the Executing Agency for a European-Union (EU)-funded Programme of Support for Health System Strengthening for the Prevention and Response to Outbreaks of Zika and other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in the Caribbean. One of the main objectives of this twelve (12) month project, which comes to an end in October 2018, is to improve the detection of Zika through, among other things, building capacity of CARPHA Member States for diagnostic testing capacity for Zika.[su_box title=”The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)” style=”soft” box_color=”#54c0f0″]The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is the single regional public health agency for the Caribbean. It was legally established in July 2011 by an Inter-governmental Agreement signed by Caribbean Member States and began operation in January 2013. The Agency rationalises public health arrangements in the Region by combining the functions of five Caribbean Regional Health Institutions (RHIs) into a single agency. They are: The Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI); The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC); The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI); The Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC); The Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL). CARPHA brings these RHIs together as one strong force under a public health umbrella where issues requiring a regional response can be addressed.[/su_box]

As part of the Project, CARPHA recently delivered training to thirteen (13) Public Health Officials from the Trinidad and Tobago in the updating of serological diagnostic techniques for the Zika virus, and the detection of human antibodies against Zika Virus.

The objective of the workshop was to enhance laboratory testing capacity for Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. Over two days, from 22 to 23 March 2018, representatives from the Trinidad Public Health Laboratory (TPHL), Insect Vector Control Division (IVCD), Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre (EWMSC), and the Regional Health Authorities, were taught basic concepts of ELISA, and how to use an Elisa IgM Kit.

Over the next months, at least five other Member States will receive the much-needed capacity-building and technical assistance for diagnostic testing.

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