As part of an ongoing European Union-funded Programme to support the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Member States in strengthening surveillance and healthcare systems within the region, a mobile laboratory was handed over to the Ministry of Health of Uganda in Kampala.
The mobile lab, worth EUR 167,300 (approximately 700 million Uganda Shillings) will be used for testing patients and sample referral from cross-border points and remote areas to regional and central laboratories especially during health emergency outbreaks.
The mobile laboratory will also help the medical workers to reach out to patients from cross-border areas, areas of emergency response, truck drivers in main truck stops and parking areas as well as people crossing the border in case of mass population movement or displacement.
The mobile lab was handed over to the Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care), Hon. Margaret Muhanga Mugisa by the Deputy Ambassador of the European Union in Uganda, Ambassador Guilaume Chartrain and witnessed by Mr Solomon Kyeyune, Partnerships Specialist at UNOPS, Senior IGAD and Ministry of Health officials.
On IGAD’s part, Dr. Hamid Idrees, Health Expert EU-IGAD Response Programme gave remarks on behalf of the Director of IGAD Health and Social Development Division highlighting that the mobile lab is to strengthen surveillance and the healthcare system in the Republic of Uganda and also thanked the European Union and all partners for their generous and timely support.
“It will help sample referral from across the country as well as cross-border areas in case of an outbreak and will help health care workers serve people in remote areas who do not have good access to lab service, especially during health emergencies,” Dr Idrees added.
In the statement of Ms. Rossella Monti, UNOPS Senior Project Manage delivered by Solomon Kyeyune, it was reiterated that the mobile lab is to support the strengthening of the health care system in Uganda as well as be valuable to the patients and population in the remote areas, near border crossings and the most vulnerable populations to receive better medical services.
“I am glad to see that we are still able to make a positive change in the lives of the common people. The COVID-19 pandemic only confirmed that strengthening the health care systems is highly important around the globe, so I believe that the contribution of the Mobile lab today will better medical services for the people in Uganda,” Ms Monti added.
On behalf of the European Union, Ambassador Guilaume Chartrain in his statement emphasized that by improving access to quality health services, especially in remote areas, the mobile laboratory represents an innovative response to that challenge, increasing our collective resilience and preparedness for current and future health crises.
“The handover of this mobile lab, an embodiment of unity, cooperation, and shared determination to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities, is a major step forward in our collective fight against COVID-19. As we strive to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, the EU remains steadfast in its support for the people of Uganda and the broader IGAD region” Ambassador Chartrain expressed the continued EU commitment and support.
Hon Muhanga in her address, expressed her gratitude and that of the government of Uganda to the European Union (EU) and all partners through IGAD for providing funding for the mobile laboratory and all the other support while curbing COVID-19 in the country, highlighting that the mobile laboratory be very useful in COVID-19 surveillance and in investigations of disease outbreaks such as Ebola, Marburg and Cholera among others.
“The mobile laboratory will be very critical in the containment of several diseases and outbreaks because, with the mobile laboratory, a testing facility is set up at the point of outbreaks thereby limiting the spread as much as possible and being valuable to the patients and population in the remote areas, near border crossings and the most vulnerable populations in order to receive better medical services” Hon Muhanga added.
Previously under the programme, an advanced and two standard ambulances; 803,230 PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), and 25,056 COVID-19 test kits were delivered to the Ministry of Health Headquarters as well as two PCR labs donated to Arua and Moroto Regional Referral Hospitals to support surveillance and laboratory services in the Republic of Uganda.
Also to note, Bibia Health Centre III in Amuru District was reconstructed to support the country in the delivery of comprehensive primary health care services. This was part of the IGAD programme’s effort to improve the health response and support cross-border communities and vulnerable populations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Programme focuses on critical cross-border areas in the region, refugee settlements and aims to enhance IGAD’s coordination capacity, increase access to health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, combat gender-based violence, improve community engagement, ensure borders are safe for trade and promote digital health solutions.
Funded by the European Union, the €60 million EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response Project is managed by UNOPS PMU Djibouti and coordinated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and implemented by United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), International Organization for Migration (IOM), TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) and The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with the aim to provide a cohesive and coordinated COVID-19 response across the IGAD region namely; Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda as well as to strengthen the health care systems in these countries.