It is one of the main goals of the IDEA project, attached to the Global Health Protection Program (GHPP), to establish and perpetuate capacities in diagnostics for the rapid identification of emerging infectious diseases in the partner country Sri Lanka. The range of diagnostics is being widened gradually by already known pathogens with public health relevance, such as Dengue virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and Chikungunya virus. Since 2017 numerous practical and theoretical workshops have thus been conducted in the framework of this project, during which medical technical staff was trained in the PCR-based diagnostics of highly pathogenic viruses.
In addition, in 2018 one PCR laboratory each has been converted and established at the University of Colombo and the North Colombo Teaching Hospital with the financial support of GHPP.
At present, the established PCR laboratories as well as the knowledge gained during the laboratory trainings contribute significantly to Sri Lanka’s management of the ongoing corona virus pandemic. Thus, the partners were provided with consumables, an additional PCR cycler and several thousand reactions of the SARS-CoV-2 PCR assay established at RKI. Supported by the German Embassy in Colombo, Condor and World Courier, rapid transportation could be realized by using an empty aircraft intended to repatriate German citizens.
In addition, IDEA supports the National Hospital in Kandy where the SARS-CoV-2 PCR has been performed since the pandemic started.
The motto of the IDEA project, “Train the Trainers”, is bearing fruit during the present corona virus pandemic. Early in the pandemic, the Sri Lankan partners in the IDEA project have adapted the knowledge gained during the previous trainings to the current situation by early on organizing and conducting workshops on PCR-based diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 (see poster). For this purpose, the University of Colombo makes the newly established laboratories available; there the trainings are conducted by using the materials provided by RKI. So far, more than 20 new members of the University and other institutions have been trained. The objective is to further establish SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics also in the laboratories at the University of Colombo. Here also RKI assists in an advisory capacity and provides reagents and consumables.
Aside from PCR diagnostics, IDEA has also been assisting in the planning of seroprevalence studies in Sri Lanka. Several institutions in Sri Lanka are conducting these jointly. RKI has offered to provide confirmation diagnostics.
Altogether, the measures taken in Sri Lanka have achieved very good results, such as the rapid establishment of diagnostics and infection prevention measures. As of June 9, 2020, Sri Lanka has reported just around 1857 cases with 11 fatalities.
Date: June 2020