Twinning on Two Continents : Tanzania and South Carolina Laboratories Partner to Exchange Opportunities
By Aika Mongi , country director , APHL Tanzania ; Reshma Kakkar , informatics manager , Global Health ; and Lucy Maryogo-Robinson , director , Global Health
The Tanzania twinning delegation at SC DHEC with Dr . Nicholas Epie , SC DHEC Agency Director Edward Simmer , former MOH Permanent Secretary Abel Makubi and Dr . Ona Adair .
Establishing a long-term relationship between public health laboratories , or “ twinning ,” is intended to be a mutually beneficial partnership to provide ongoing learning and development opportunities for staff of both laboratories . In many cases , the different experiences and perspectives that are brought to the table through bilateral training and information exchange can benefit both parties and be a valuable learning experience .
Tanzania ’ s National Public Health Laboratory ( NPHL ) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Laboratory ( SC DHEC ) established their relationship in February 2020 during a courtesy visit with the Director of Diagnostic Services for the Tanzania Ministry of Health ( MOH ). MOH expressed interest in better understanding the core functions of public health laboratories and their role in public health surveillance ( e . g ., experience with the diagnosis of diseases rarely seen in the United States or experience with low-cost testing methods ). The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the integral role national public health laboratories play in detecting pathogens of public health significance and coordinating laboratory response .
After a pandemic pause , in-person twinning activities resumed with the MOH team visiting SC DHEC and APHL headquarters in September 2022 . The team met with the agency director and division leads to learn firsthand the critical role public health laboratories have in events of public health significance . The team spent time at the laboratory learning about each team ’ s testing and reporting policies and determined four areas for future collaboration . Following the laboratory visit , the team traveled to APHL headquarters to gain a broader understanding of the association ’ s domestic and global activities .
Today , the strategic direction of NPHL is mandated by senior MOH leadership and it is in the process of becoming a semi-autonomous public health agency . In addition , NPHL and SC DHEC are finalizing a memorandum of understanding and planning their first collaborative project on non-influenza surveillance using multi-pathogen assays . APHL is excited to be supporting this important initiative through funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . g
The delegation meets with the SC DHEC agency director .