Pan American Health and Education FoundationPAHEF

American Society of Microbiology/PAHEF Partnership for Asia Tsunami Relief and Recovery

Strengthening Microbiology Laboratories in Aceh Province, Indonesia Post-Tsunami

In response to the catastrophic effects of the tsunami slamming into the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) partnered with the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) to establish the ASM Tsunami Relief/Recovery Partnership Fund. This partnership is committed to helping strengthen the microbiological infrastructure in the devastated areas, and thereby helping the long-term well-being of the people.

Immediately after the disaster, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent out microbiologists to Aceh province to assess the status of the laboratory system, and again in May 2005 for a more extensive evaluation. Soon thereafter local laboratory directors drew up plans for capacity building in hopes to find funding. The PAHEF-ASM partnership stepped to the plate, and provided a grant of $30,000 to the WHO Office in Indonesia. The partnership is thankful to the WHO office in Lyon (France) for epidemic and pandemic alert and response for its managing the project.

The grant supported activities to not only build capacity of laboratory personnel and management, but also to
  • Set up and manage a quality assurance/quality control program for the surveillance of communicable diseases and outbreak investigation in microbiology laboratories in Aceh and
  • Strengthen communication and collaboration among microbiologists, clinicians, and public health officials.
Interpreting the results of antimicrobial susceptibility tests. From left: Ms Novita Elsa (Zeinol Abidin hospital laboratory Banda Aceh), Ms Darmi (Meulaboh District hospital, Meulaboh) and Mr Bapak Sabri (Provincial public health laboratory, Banda Aceh)

In addition to the above, another WHO contribution, in collaboration with US Centers for Disease Control, is the Manual for laboratory identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of bacterial pathogens of public health importance in the developing world. Specifically, this manual was the reference for producing a simplified laboratory manual for identification of enteric pathogens in Bahasa Indonesia. This laboratory manual served as the reference for the training of laboratory diagnostic technicians and for future trainings.

An example of the antimicrobial susceptibility assays performed during the workshop

This grant presented an opportunity for microbiologists and laboratory management from Aceh province in Indonesia to expand their skills and knowledge in the field of medical laboratory and laboratory services. For example, laboratory leaders went to Malaysian public health institutions in Malaysia to learn what they are doing in the management and application of medical microbiology and laboratory services.

The PAHEF-ASM partnership is committed to helping long-term relief efforts in Aceh to strengthen the management and infrastructure of laboratories and skills of microbiologists and their leaders.

Please consider a generous gift to the ASM Tsunami Relief/Recovery Partnership Fund so initial training, system-building, and coordination efforts can reach more microbiologists, clinicians, and public health officials.
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