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2022-8-8 5:47:30

Indonesia: Labs will be upgraded for bird flu tests
submited by kickingbird at Jun, 23, 2006 22:11 PM from Reuters

Indonesia plans to upgrade its national health laboratory to meet World Health Organization standards, a leading scientist said on Friday, to be able to conduct definitive bird flu tests at home.

The country currently sends samples to WHO-referenced labs overseas for H5N1 tests as those conducted by the Jakarta-based National Institute of Health Research and Development Laboratory (Badan Litbangkes) are not considered final.

"We will upgrade Litbangkes to biosecurity level three, so we don´t have to send samples to Hong Kong for confirmation," said Erna Tresnaningsih, head of the research and development center for biomedics and pharmacy at Litbangkes.

The H5N1 bird flu virus has become endemic in Indonesia since it was first discovered in the country´s poultry in late 2003. The virus has infected 51 people and killed 39 of them.

In an interview with Reuters, Tresnaningsih said eight laboratories in the country will be upgraded this year to conduct initial H5N1 tests, and samples will be sent to Litbangkes for confirmation.

"The idea is when there is a case in the region, (one of) the eight labs will test and then they will send the samples to the medical laboratory in Litbangkes in Jakarta for confirmation," she said.

Of the eight laboratories, two are on Sumatra island, four on Java island, one on Bali and one on Sulawesi.

To cope with the outbreak, Indonesia has put much effort into training government staff on infection control and bringing their laboratories up to speed with help from the medical communities in Singapore and Hong Kong, according to sources in both these places.

Tresnaningsih said staff at the eight laboratories will be sent to Singapore where they will be taught how to take samples correctly.

"We want the laboratories to be able to diagnose and read PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and serology tests correctly. We will train our staff to take specimens correctly because if not, the samples will come back negative," she said.

She did not know how much the upgrading project will cost, but said the WHO will help raise funds from Australia and Germany and obtain testing tools so that all eight laboratories will have the same facilities as Litbangkes.
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