Excel Construction’s Eng. Murali Krishna (left), DTRA’s Jon Wright (third left), NARO’s Prof. Justus Rustaisire (second right) and NaLIRRI’s Dr. Fredrick Kabi (right) breaking ground for the laboratory at Nakyesasa. Photo by Mary Kansiime
The US Department of Defence through its Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has offered to construct a state-of-the-art regional diagnostic laboratory for the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
The lab is aimed at improving sustainability and functionality, and to enhance biological security and safety, Jon Wright, a representative of DTRA said at a launch of the facility at Namulonge in Wakiso district.
The lab will have a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) section, and high level molecular and serology and microbiology centres.
It will be complex, with high security, said Wright, who also represented US ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac.
The $1.6 million (and equipment estimated at $0.5m) facility will be housed at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute and is the first of its kind for NARO.
Construction of the laboratory is expected to be completed in February 2019.
Prof. Justus Rutaisire, the director of corporate services at NARO, welcomed the partnership from the US Department of Defense, and said the lab will solve many challenges.
The present infrastructure for a diagnostic laboratory in NARO does not have a biosecurity component, which resulted in the organisation having to send samples to other labs. This was time and money consuming according to Rutaisire.
He said the facility will enhance biosafety and biosecurity standards and strengthen Uganda’s ability to detect, diagnose, conduct surveillance and enable reporting of emerging and re-emerging diseases of international concern.
Uganda being a landlocked country acts as a conduit for human and livestock traffic for its neighbours, thereby exposing its human and livestock populations to different strains of disease.
Dr. Fredrick Kabi, the acting director at National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) and head of livestock health research, said the lab will facilitate quick diagnosis and containment of disease and epidemics.
The lab will serve Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and other countries.
With the lab, NARO‑NaLIRRI will be able to attract and conduct high quality collaborative research and boost capacity building, he said.