Six officers squeezing in a small office room at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) at Kukum will soon be a thing of the past— thanks to the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Enhanced Capacity for Agriculture Trade (ECAT) Project.
The support under the EIF ECAT Project has ensured that a new office space will soon be available to the officers and the rest of the lab workers. And this afternoon, the Minister of Health and Medical Service Dr Culwick Togamana and his Foreign Affairs colleague Jeremiah Manele officially marked the construction of the new office space with a ground breaking ceremony just next to the NPHL opposite of Fishing Village.
Straight after the ceremony, the ministers were taken on a tour in the building where they were shown amongst other things a small office space that houses six officers.
“We are aware that the NPHL staff have been using the Lab as an office space for the past couple of years and this has affected the country’s broader objective of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification and accreditation mainly on the micro-biology area,” he said.
The new office space which is worth SBD$827,068.00 and to be built by Motawa Enterprises will enable NPHL to have its very own office space for the first time. It is expected to be completed at the end of this year.
The office is fully funded by the EIF ECAT project to enable NPHL in its capacity to carry out proper testing and analysis of the targeted agricultural products under the ECAT (Enhanced Capacity for Agriculture Trade) Project. This is an important requirement to be able to export and ensuring general food safety for domestic consumption.
Manele explains that ECAT aims to boost exports of key agricultural commodities, namely taro and cassava by establishing an appropriate policy enabling environment to increase investment and tap into the existing value chains and boosting the capacity of local testing facilities to ensure compliance in the area of food safety.
“I can state that this is not the first time that the EIF ECAT project has stepped in to assist the NPHL,” he said.
In March, the Project also provided SBD$140,000 worth of lab equipment and chemicals to the NPHL. “This shows the commitment the EIF has to ensuring that NPHL has enough resources at its disposal,” Manele said.
Meanwhile he adds that in order to achieve ISO certification, one of the requirements is that NPHL staff will need to have their own office space.
“It is from this that the EIF ECAT project as part of its work plans has stepped in to assist the NPHL team,” he stated this afternoon.
“There are those that can be addressed throughout the product value chain – through training, information sharing, proper planning and or food handling, capacity building to name only a few. The importance of laboratory testing goes beyond and above ensuring that quality and food safety is guaranteed for consumption – either for export or domestic consumption,” he said.
With the export of cassava already in the pipeline, the NPHL will be crucial in ensuring that they meet the required standard before it is expected to countries like Australia.
The lab will also be used for COVID-19 outbound passengers.