The visiting South African delegation to support the Cubans of the Sierra Leone Medical aid Project and the country’s National Reference Laboratory at Lakka on Thurday 9th June, 2016 pledged their commitment to assist in strengthening the laboratory system in the country as well as providing capacity building for health professionals.

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Cluster-Africa and South-South Relations, Department of Health Representative, Republic of South Africa, Mr. Moekatsi Modisenyane in a meeting with senior officials of the Health Ministry in Freetown disclosed plans to redesigned the already infrastructure at Lakka with an Annexe in partnership with local Engineers in the country.

He said they are committed to ensure fundamental human resource capacity and basic clinical diagnosis with Laboratory Technicians and the provision of full scholarships to nationals to pursue PHD and MScCourses in Specialist areas, and encouraged the Ministry to develop criteria for suitable personnel.

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Mr. Modisenyane reiterated their commitment for a long term health resilient system in Sierra Leone as they plan to improve the intake at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS). A similar assistance rendered to Rwanda, Mali and other African countries.

Head of Special Pathogens Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, South Africa, Prof. Janusz Paweska disclosed plans to make available high level diagnostic equipment that would capture Hemorrhagic Fever Project, provide support to the TB Laboratory, provide a conducive environment for specialist training at Lakka and to improve the National Reference Laboratory in collaboration with USAID and China.

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Professor Paweska noted the challenges during the EVD outbreak due to weak health system, adding that Sierra Leone, Liberia and neighbouring Guinea with the experiences had, are still at risk which calls for the importance of putting systems in place. Commenting on the PHD and MSc scholarship programme he reiterated the need for the Ministry’s support by identifying suitable candidate that meets the requirement.

Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madina Rahman lauded the team for the gesture, describing their mission as crucial for capacity building and timely for skills transfer. She said the intended partnership for the operations of the Lakka Laboratory would yield dividend and that the establishment of Hemorrhagic Fever Laboratory is welcome news noting that there is only one in Kenema.

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The Ministry’s proposed team for South Africa Madam Rahman said will be there to share experience, and advocated for more women for the scholarship training programme.

Madam Rahman on behalf of the Ministry, the government and people of Sierra Leone thanked the team and the South African government for the continued support towards assisting the government in building a resilient health system for Sierra Leone.