Mobile laboratories CZU mobiLAB in Zambia

Experts from the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences launched 3 units of the CZU mobiLAB - a mobile laboratory for the detection of infectious diseases.

Mobile laboratories CZU mobiLAB were developed last year as part of the project "Prevention of Covid-19 Proliferation in Exposed Locations and Increasing the Resilience of Local Communities in Zambia (CORE4)", in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These unique laboratories will be used in hard-to-reach areas of Zambia to detect infectious agents using molecular biological methods. The laboratories are unique for their small size, weight, and easy assembly. The equipment can be easily transported by off-road car and the whole laboratory can be set up within one hour.

“The first three laboratory units CZU mobiLAB were dispatched by DHL company to Zambia in December 2020. The next step was to launch the laboratories and train medical staff,” says Dr. Hynek Roubík, project coordinator from Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences (FTA). The FTA team of experts composed of Ing. Johana Hrnková, RNDr. Jiří Černý, Ph.D. and Ing. Anna Chládová, went to Zambia with a goal to introduce the laboratories and train medical staff. The first training took place on April 21-22, 2021 at the Lusaka Adventist Clinic with the participation of clinic staff and other medical staff from Yuka Mission Hospital, Western province of Zambia. The second training followed during  April 28-29, 2021 in the city of Chirundu in the Southern province of Zambia aimed at upskilling and instructing the Mtendre Mission Hospital and Zambian Health Ministry staff.

Both trainings shared the same program; on the first day theoretical lectures were presented to the participants. The lectures presented the functions and methods of the mobiLAB CZU and as well as  pathogens that can be detected. The lectures were followed by  by a demonstration of all equipment and the assembly of the entire laboratory. On the second day of the training, a practical demonstration of the diagnostic process took place: from sampling, RNA/DNA isolation and PCR to the final visualization and evaluation of the results. The training in Lusaka was attended by the Ambassador of the Czech Republic Mgr. Radek Rubeš and Dr. Harrington Akombwa, board chair of ADRA Zambia.

How will the mobiLAB CZU work in the field? The base structure of the laboratory is an inflatable tent developed by GUMOTEX company, which can be assembled within 15 minutes. There are two laboratory tables inside the tent, which divide the laboratory into an area for DNA/RNA isolation and an area for PCR and gel electrophoresis. Isolation of genetic material is performed in a special protective glove box to eliminate the possibility of infection of personnel. Genetic material amplification (PCR) is then performed by miniPCR instruments. The great benefit of the miniPCR instruments is their durability and size – everything can fit to the small easy-to-transport suitcase. Besides the detection of pathogens by molecular methods, there is a possibility to analyse peripheral blood samples for the presence of malaria (Plasmodium spp.), performed using a light microscope. CZU mobiLAB currently offers diagnostics of 10 infectious agents, namely: HIV / AIDS, chikungunya fever, measles, tuberculosis, bacterial meningitis, malaria, cholera, gastroenteritis caused by rotaviruses, Covid -19, yellow fever.

The project is run in cooperation with the ADRA organization, which is in charge of training and distribution of laboratories to the above-mentioned medical facilities. The CZU mobiLAB project was funded by Czech Development Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic within the framework of Czech development cooperation with Zambia.

Find out more on the CZU mobiLAB website.


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