Evaluation of Preparedness of Provincial Laboratories in Kenya to Respond to
Public Health Emergencies
Ronoh Yuster, Waqo Boru, Karoki Solomon, Njeru Mercy, Abdirazak Mohamed, Oundo Joseph
Int. J. Bio. Lab. Sci 2014 3:35-40
Public health laboratories are critical for diagnosing and supporting control of infectious diseases. Concern about Kenyan provincial laboratories’ ability to detect and respond to outbreaks and other emergencies has increased in recent times, with cholera and Rift Valley fever outbreaks as examples. These situations have raised questions regarding readiness of laboratories for outbreaks and emergency response, particularly to serious threats such as Ebola. We assessed provincial
laboratories to determine their level of preparedness. We selected eight out of ten core functional areas of the World Health Organization’s Laboratory Assessment Tool / Facilities (WHO LAT) that are critical for responding to public health emergencies. Managers of the eight provincial laboratories completed the checklist, which assesses preparedness and emergency responses in eight components: equipment; reagents and supply; analysis and test performed biosafety, hygiene and security; total quality; laboratory staffing and working time; reporting, analysis and communication; and outbreak participation. Percentage scores relative to the World Health Organization benchmark were calculated for each of the eight components. Median overall scores across the eight laboratories for five out of eight components were 41-49% of the benchmark level set by the WHO; reagents and supply exceeded the minimum optimal WHO of 50% threshold, attaining median score of 67% (55-85). Lab 6 scored was rated optimal scores of 75% and above on 23 of 32 specific indicators. All of the other provincial laboratories achieved at least 75% on 11 to 16 indicators out of 32 indicators. Provincial laboratories in Kenya are therefore inadequately prepared for public health emergencies. The result of this evaluation illustrated a need to improve the ability of provincial laboratories to respond to public health emergencies.
Key words: Kenya, laboratories, public health, emergencies