n African Journal of Laboratory Medicine - The laboratory health system and its response to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Liberia - : lessons from the field

Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2225-2002
  • E-ISSN: 2225-2010



The laboratory system in Liberia has generally been fragmented and uncoordinated. Accordingly, the country's Ministry of Health established the National Reference laboratory to strengthen and sustain laboratory services. However, diagnostic testing services were often limited to clinical tests performed in health facilities, with the functionality of the National Reference Laboratory restricted to performing testing services for a limited number of epidemic-prone diseases. The lack of testing capacity in-country for Lassa fever and other haemorrhagic fevers affected the response of the country's health system during the onset of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak. Based on the experiences of the EVD outbreak, efforts were initiated to strengthen the laboratory system and infrastructure, enhance human resource capacity, and invest in diagnostic services and public health surveillance to inform admittance,treatment, and discharge decisions. In this article, we briefly describe the pre-EVD laboratory capability in Liberia, and extensively explore the post-EVD strengthening initiatives to enhance capacity, mobilise resources and coordinate disaster response with international partners to rebuild the laboratory infrastructure in the country. Now that the EVD outbreak has ended, additional initiatives are needed to revise the laboratory strategic and operational plan for post-EVD relevance, promote continual human resource capacity, institute accreditation and validation programmes, and coordinate the investment strategy to strengthen and sustain the preparedness of the laboratory sector to mitigate future emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

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