APHL Expands to the Middle East and North Africa
By Samira Al-Mahruqi , country director , APHL Oman and Matthew McCarroll , lead specialist , Global Health
The Undersecretary and the Director General of the Ministry of Health attend meetings with APHL
In early 2021 , in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) and the Oman Ministry of Health ( MOH ), APHL began activities to build laboratory workforce capacity in advanced molecular detection of priority diseases in the Oman Central Public Health Laboratory ( CPHL ). In addition , it implemented national-level activities to improve quality systems management , new laboratory design and development , and build laboratory workforce capacity in advanced molecular detection of priority diseases in CPHL . In October 2022 , APHL opened an office in Muscat , Oman — the first APHL office in the Middle East / North Africa ( MENA ) region .
Twinning for Success in WGS and Bioinformatics
CPHL was paired with the Oregon and Wyoming State Public Health Laboratories through APHL ’ s Twinning Program to focus on whole genome sequencing ( WGS ) and bioinformatic analysis . Eight staff from CPHL traveled to the United States where they were separated into two cohorts . Each cohort visited Wyoming and Oregon for two weeks to better understand the quality workflows of advanced molecular detection , WGS , and bioinformatic data analysis . In March 2023 , staff from Wyoming traveled to CPHL to assist in refining WGS wet lab workflow and to set their server for enhanced bioinformatic analysis . Staff from Oregon are scheduled to travel to CPHL in June to complete bioinformatics training . To enhance knowledge and expand experience in advanced molecular diagnostics , direct collaboration of CPHL staff with the scientists and bioinformatician from Wyoming and Oregon is in place .
In addition to working directly with CPHL , APHL is also assisting the MOH with strategic planning . MOH is in the process of building a new laboratory that will serve as a Center of Excellence in the region to provide reference testing and training . APHL designed an itinerary for MOH leaders and organized travel to the US to visit state public health laboratories , to view and discuss facility design , operations , workflows , biosafety standards , selection of the appropriate laboratory construction materials and good laboratory practices , giving them insight into how laboratories are
designed , what works , and where the challenges have been .
While APHL continues to support CPHL , it has also begun efforts to strengthen laboratory capacity throughout the MENA region . The association recently finished up a bioinformatics training on postsequencing analysis of SARS-CoV-2 using Terra . Bio and Command Line in Jordan and will continue supporting the growth of their bioinformatics and molecular epidemiology skills through additional trainings . In Morocco , APHL plans to perform a system-level laboratory assessment in summer 2023 that will provide valuable information on the gaps and challenges to both CDC and APHL and help determine how best to address these challenges and strengthen their laboratory capacity . Additionally , APHL will also facilitate a quality management system “ training of trainers ” in Oman . The trainers will then be able to provide training to other laboratories in Oman or the MENA region at CPHL . g
20 LAB MATTERS Summer 2023
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