The ECSA- Health community hosted the 7th regional steering committee meeting of the regional project funded by the World Bank, the East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking (EAPHLN) Project. The project was funded to a tune of 78millon US dollars to support EAC countriesto improve their diagnostic and surveillance capacities to address emerging and re-emerging public health concerns in the region. The project has been implemented in the five countries in East Africa covering 32 laboratories in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda for the last five years covering 32 health facilities The ECSA in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) plays a coordinating role coordinating the reviews and technical discussions as well as providing platforms for knowledge sharing, amongst other regional responsibilities.
The steering committee brings together the Senior officials in project implementing teams in the five countries. The 7th Regional Steering committee was convened to carry out joint review of the progress in the project implementation, achievements, challenges and opportunities for strengthening implementation and implementation plan for the next phase of the project. The 7th Regional steering committee was convened specifically to:-
i. To review the progress in the implementation of activities at country and regional level for the past five years;
ii. Discuss the preparation and approval of additional financing for the EAPHLNP;
iii. Discuss preliminary report of analytical work carried out to evaluate the performance of the EAPHLNP supported public health laboratories and the role of PBF;
iv. Review and approve the regional work plan for 2015/2016 and countries and regional priorities for Phase 2;
v. Discuss other regional laboratory initiatives in the EAC/ECSA region and linkage with the EAPHLNP (GF, KfW)
The project has received backing for additional financing from the World Bank for another four years owing to the great achievements recorded by the project. The main achievements included but not limited to:-
i. Improvement of laboratory quality systems with over 87% of laboratories under the network attaining 2 stars; under the WHO Step wise Laboratory Improvement Process Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA);
ii. Building capacity of health professionals in the region with over 8500 being trained in various disciplines across the region; including staff taking their Masters and PhDs;
iii. Enhancing surveillance and control capacities in the East African region and supporting sister countries in the West African Countries to control Ebola which is almost coming under control;
iv. Expanding the platforms for knowledge and information sharing and networking among the experts in the region;
v. Providing evidence through the ongoing operational research that will inform health practice and service delivery in the Partner states;
vi. Continued growing list of partners and collaborating Institutions to provide technical and financial support to support the strengthening of diagnostic and surveillance capacities in the partner states.
In her opening remarks, the Task team leader of the project at the World Bank commended the excellent work that the countries are doing with strong leadership demonstrated by the project teams in supporting their own facilities and contributing to the region. She indicated that through the project, contribution of the laboratory in services in the overall health service delivery is being felt.
The Director General of the ECSA Health Community, Prof.YoswaDambisyaappreciated the project teams for the great achievements recorded in the implementation of project which has greatly raised the profiles of laboratory services in the region and world wide. He also thanked the World Bank for providing the finances that has contributed to the improvement of laboratory services in the countries in the East African region in the past five years and committing to provide additional financing to facilitate the scale up and consolidating the gains realized in the project. The Director General, assured of the ECSA Health Community commitment in providing the required leadership to continue supporting the countries and working with the various partners to ensure that the objectives of the project are met.