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Six Indonesian Disease Investigation Centres help accelerate COVID-19 testing

Six Indonesian Disease Investigation Centres help accelerate COVID-19 testing


As the COVID-19 epidemic rages on in Indonesia, the Government of Indonesia has increased the number of laboratories allowed to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of coronavirus disease. The Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, Ministry of Agriculture (DGLAHS-MoA) has stepped up its One Health collaboration to support Ministry of Health referral laboratories by preparing Disease Investigation Centres (DICs) to test human samples for COVID-19. This initiative was applauded by the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (FAO ECTAD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which have been working closely with the DGLAHS-MoA and the wider Government of Indonesia since the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreak in 2006.

 “To minimize the impact of this rapidly spreading virus, a One Health approach is one of the solutions. With previous experience in the control of avian influenza outbreaks, DICs are able to support public health laboratories to meet the massive demand for COVID-19 testing,” said FAO ECTAD Country Team Leader James McGrane. Funded by USAID, FAO ECTAD assistance over the past fourteen years has strengthened the capacity and capability of DICs to detect zoonotic and infectious diseases in animals, through comprehensive training on laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, quality assurance, risk mitigation and procedures standardization.

 “This investment has convinced the Government that DICs are well-positioned to carry out COVID-19 testing and support the testing surge capacity of public health laboratories to more rapidly identify cases of infection,” added Ryan Washburn, USAID Indonesia Mission Director. By mid-May, three DIC laboratories (Bukittinggi, West Sumatra; Subang, West Java and  Maros, South Sulawesi) had begun COVID-19 testing, while the other three laboratories (Wates, Yogyakarta; Bandar Lampung, Lampung and Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan) were making preparations and laboratory adjustments for COVID-19 testing. Four laboratories (Bukittinggi, Subang, Maros and Wates) have now received authorization from the Ministry of Health’s Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) to proceed with testing, while the Bandar Lampung and Banjarbaru laboratories are still waiting for approval.

FAO ECTAD and USAID continue to work with DGLAHS-MoA and DICs to provide technical advice and guidance on the harmonization of test protocols and biorisk management (biosafety and biosecurity). This support aims to assist with the validation of test results, minimize the danger to laboratory workers and maintain the biosecurity of the specimens tested.