National Public Laboratory Gets New Equipment

Photo: Mark Bell Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), and Acting Coordinator for Medical Technology Services at the National Public Health Laboratory in Kingston, Michelle Maylor-Archat (left), peer through microscopes during a tour of the institution on Friday, February 10. The tour followed the presentation of a newly acquired Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, valued approximately $6.4 million (US$50,000), to the Laboratory by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). Also pictured is Chief Medical Technologist in the Cytology Department, Cecile Appiah.

Story Highlights

  • The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), on Friday (February 10), presented a new Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to the National Public Health Laboratory in Kingston.
  • The equipment, valued approximately $6.4 million (US$50,000), will boost the lab’s capability to test for the Zika and Chikungunya viruses by enabling it to better analyse blood samples.
  • The presentation was made to Health Minister, Dr. the Hon, Christopher Tufton, by PAHO/WHO Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Noreen Jack.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), on Friday (February 10), presented a new Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to the National Public Health Laboratory in Kingston.

The equipment, valued approximately $6.4 million (US$50,000), will boost the lab’s capability to test for the Zika and Chikungunya viruses by enabling it to better analyse blood samples.

The presentation was made to Health Minister, Dr. the Hon, Christopher Tufton, by PAHO/WHO Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Noreen Jack.

Dr. Tufton thanked PAHO/WHO for the gift and for maintaining a strong relationship with Jamaica.

“It signifies an important partnership and is a manifestation of how we have to tackle the challenges that the world has to confront in public health,” he said.

In this regard, Dr. Tufton encouraged greater collaborations among stakeholders, pointing out that “health is everybody’s business.”

“It is as much an economic issue as it is a social issue and, therefore, it is a critical part of plans to move any country forward whether (through) growth, development or otherwise,” he added.

The Minister also commended the National Public Health Laboratory staff for their invaluable contribution to the fight against infectious diseases, noting that their work was critical in effecting timely diagnoses and responses to minimizing disease outbreaks.

For her part, Dr. Jack said the machine’s procurement was timely and would assist in further strengthening the capacity of Jamaica’s health sector to better treat with disease outbreaks.

She added that in response to the health sector’s focus on stemming the incidence of vector-borne diseases, two National Public Health Laboratory technicians were on two-week training course in Brazil.

“One of the things that we saw as very important was to build the capacity for the molecular methods…hence the (decision to acquire) the Real Time PCR Machine. I, therefore, see great potential here for also testing for influenza, as well as non-influenza, respiratory and other viruses. This is critical, given the emerging and re-emergence of some of these arboviruses (mosquito borne viruses),” Dr. Jack said.

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