CARPHA Trains Laboratory Personnel to Better Manage Outbreak Situations in the Region

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, November 26, 2014: The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), hosted from November 17-21 two workshops on shipping of infectious substances and biosafety practices in clinical laboratory. The workshops were geared at bolstering the Region’s preparedness for Ebola and other high risk threats by strengthening the capabilities of Member States to manage possible outbreak situations.

The training workshops included 14 participants from 12 Caribbean countries. The “Infectious Shipping Training” (November 17-19, 2014) focused on categorization, packaging and shipping of infectious substances. Successful participants received certification for a period of two years to package and ship Category A, Infectious substances. The training was done in accordance with the WHO Guidance on Regulations for the Transport of Infectious Substances 2013-2014.

Additionally, training on Biosafety Practices for the Clinical Laboratory (November 19-21, 2014) included the implementation of both biosafety and biosecurity measures based on the WHO Biorisk Management Programme to protect the staff and the environment. Special emphasis was put on the proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE), work in biosafety cabinets and waste management.

According to Dr Cristina Gutierrez, the Director of Laboratory Services and Networks at CARPHA, “the purpose of these workshops is to remind laboratories of the procedures that they should follow at all times when handling samples.” Dr. Gutierrez explained that participants learnt how to handle infectious substances safely and work in a safe laboratory by mitigating the risks. It is anticipated that persons who have been trained will become trainers in their respective institutions and countries.

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