A team of 7 lab diagnostics experts arrived in Tajikistan on 22 July to support the implementation and strengthening of the national COVID-19 laboratory upscaling action plan. The team came from Rospotrebnadzor, Russian Federation, an active member of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).
GOARN is a global WHO network of over 250 technical institutions and networks that respond to acute public health events with the deployment of staff and resources to affected countries.
The GOARN experts will provide support to the National Laboratory Working Group for the response to COVID-19 and to the laboratory pillar of the newly established Public Health Emergency Operations Center. Tajikistan’s national action plan aims to promote country-wide diagnostic testing based on current laboratory capacity in all national and regional laboratory networks.
The expert team from the Russian Federation will assess Tajikistan’s existing laboratory distribution system and flow of laboratory data, and will suggest concrete steps to strengthen the COVID-19 laboratory data management system. The team will also support the Tajik laboratory experts in their ongoing activities.
Building surveillance and testing capacity
Dr Bahtygul Karriyeva, Head of the WHO Country Office (a.i.) in Tajikistan, described the role GOARN partners are playing in the country. “A strong COVID-19 response must include a comprehensive strategy for surveillance and testing. GOARN partners have been deployed in Tajikistan from the very beginning to make sure that the right technical support and skills are on the ground rapidly. This included support at the start of the outbreak to rapidly expand testing capacity and the capacity building of laboratory staff. We welcome the Rapid Response Mobile Laboratory Team from Rospotrebnadzor that will continue working with Tajik specialists to ensure that the country has the capacity and resources required to quickly test, report and respond to suspected cases of the disease,” she said.
“Any pandemic has no borders, does not know regions and does not recognize nationalities,” said Dr Alexander Semenov, Deputy Director at the Saint Petersburg Pasteur Institute. “This is a common misfortune for all people anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is possible to combat it only by joint efforts, together, sharing knowledge, experience and constantly helping each other. The mission visited its friends in Tajikistan not only to share the experience that we have gained in other countries, but also to learn from colleagues in Tajikistan,” he added. Dr Semenov, who has also been part of WHO missions to China and Italy, is leading the GOARN mission to Tajikistan.