Will strengthen preparedness and disease management in Malawi

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute arranged a workshop at the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) in Lilongwe in Malawi October 9.-11. The workshop was part of the Norad funded project "One Health - control of zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial resistance in the milk value chain in Malawi and Ethiopia", which researcher at the Veterinary Institute Hannah Joan Jørgensen leads.

The purpose of the workshop was to map gaps and capacity needs at CVL to help them prioritize the training of laboratory staff working with quality assurance systems in serology and PCR diagnostics. A laboratory assessment tool (FAO Laboratory Mapping Tool) was used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the different laboratories.

Challenges with submitting of samples

-One of the biggest weaknesses identified is the challenge related to the submitting of field samples due to high transport costs and difficulties in finding transport. In addition, there is no laboratory data system in use, except at the section of bacteriology. Metadata is therefore missing for most of the samples. Without regular sample access, it is also difficult to build up and maintain the professional competence to run a diagnostic laboratory according to the required standard, says researcher at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute Siv Klevar, who organized the workshop in Malawi.

Klevar says that another major weakness is waste management in Malawi. Material and waste from the section of bacteriology are autoclaved, and deposited in a cement tank with a lid. Carcasses and other biological material are also set up in this tank.

During the workshop, a practical training in serological methods was carried out to detect the diseases Brucella and Coxiella. The samples were collected during a recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Both laboratory technicians and veterinary students participated.

A workshop was also organized for methodological assessments and troubleshooting in serology and PCR, with 11 participants from CVL and seven participants from the Veterinary Institute.

A representative from CVL talked about the work in connection with PCR testing for rabies. Researcher at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute Britt Gjerset gave a presentation on diagnostics and Siv Klevar presented the theoretical and practical aspects of immunology analysis and serology.

Successful workshop

- This workshop was a success and we are very happy to be able to contribute to skills development in connection with the laboratory work in Malawi. It further contributes to strengthening preparedness and disease management in the country, says Siv Klevar.

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