All pictures (c) National Animal Health Diagnosis and Investigation Centre (NAHDIC) 2020
Amid the current sanitary crisis posed by COVID-19, governments are responding in a coordinated way to this unprecedented challenge. A collaborative approach is seen as essential, considering that in many countries the public health services are reaching and surpassing their full capacity. Veterinary laboratories and animal health research centres are prepared to support the public health services while assuring highest quality standards.
In Ethiopia, the National Animal Health Diagnostic and Investigation Centre (NAHDIC) began supporting the community in the town of Sebeta, where the institution is located, by providing protection equipment such as masks and gloves to at-risk government officials working at health centres, police stations, banks and at the Sebeta courthouse. Furthermore, NAHDIC has donated 10,000 swabs and medium solution for sample collection and transportation to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI).
Subsequently, in addition to supporting communities protecting against COVID-19, NAHDIC established an emergency diagnostic team. The institution fulfils the biosafety and biosecurity standards required by the World Health Organization (WHO) to perform COVID-19 testing on human specimens. An additional guarantee, NAHDIC is accredited for ISO 17025 since 2008. With vast experience on testing of zoonotic diseases such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Bovine Tuberculosis, Anthrax, Ebola and MERS-CoV, signatory professionals working at NAHDIC are highly qualified to help not only in diagnosis, but also to conduct further research on COVID-19 vaccine and drugs development.
WHO and EPHI evaluation team at NAHDIC during assessment of laboratories involved in COVID-19 testing.
Recent laboratory renovations allowed NAHDIC to comply with international standards, in accordance with WHO guidelines. The Centre also took part in the OIE Laboratory Twinning programme between 2015 and 2019. This experience enhanced their capacities in molecular diagnostic techniques and serological surveillance.
Under the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture, NAHDIC initiated COVID-19 testing on human specimens in March 2020, reporting immediately to EPHI. In two months, 5,000 samples were processed. Following WHO international recommendations to boost testing, the Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia is contributing to advance the national testing capacity on COVID-19 and test more than 300 samples per day.