Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone - Building a One Health laboratory and strengthening the laboratory system

Title: Laboratory Systems Strengthening in Sierra Leone

Code: D18-06

Date: April 2018 - November 2019

Location: Sierra Leone

Client: World Bank through the Royal Tropical Institute

Type of services:

Conduct of a laboratory system assessment and literature studies on laboratory systems and specimen referral systems. 


[27 Jul 2018] In Sierra Leone Tjeerd Datema conducted a scoping mission and situational analysis of the laboratory system for a World Bank project. In this project we collaborate with KIT. The project focuses on public health capacity building in Sierra Leone. It consists of two components: (i) disease surveillance system assessment and quality improvement and (ii) laboratory training. DATOS is responsible for the latter. Source: //

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Title: Tailor-made Training for university lecturers at Njala University, Sierra Leone

Code: D16-14

Date: October 2016

Location: Sierra Leone

Client: NUFFIC, through the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)

Type of services:

Design and provision of a tailor-made training on curriculum review and teaching capacity enhancement to university teachers at the Njala University, Sierra Leone.


[28 Oct 2016] From 17 to 21 October DATOS provided a tailor-made training funded by NUFFIC to teachers of the School of Community Health Sciences at Njala University in Sierra Leone. This training was organized together with KIT and the Njala University. The aim of the training was to increase the capacity of the teaching staff of Njala University to train public health professionals to deliver improved basic public health services to deprived communities, also during outbreaks of emerging diseases such as Ebola.

Emerging Disease Outbreak Preparedness

The overall project consisted of a one-week training (provided in August), a field assignment, and again a one-week training. In the first training university staff learned how to conduct a training needs analysis and curriculum review. During the field assignment the university staff conducted a training needs analysis themselves and reviewed the curriculum of the MSc. Nutrition and Health, MSc. Public Health, and the MSc. Environmental Health with the goal to formulate recommendations on inclusion of modules on emerging disease outbreak preparedness. In the second training the results of the field assignments were scrutinized and the recommendations on improvement of the Master programmes optimized. During this week the university staff was also trained on topics such as leadership and management, teamwork, and modern teaching methodologies. The final assignment of the course consisted of micro-teaching session to practice adoption of newly acquired teaching methodologies.

Improving MSc. Programmes

The recommendations on inclusion of modules on emerging disease outbreak preparedness in the various MSc programmes were presented to the Chancelor of Njala University. The training was a big success, which was emphasized by the University's Vice Chancellor stating his commitment to analyse and consider adoption of the recommendations for improvement of the MSc. Nutrition and Health, MSc. Public Health, and the MSc. Environmental Health! Source: //

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Title: Preparedness against Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases in Sierra Leone and Guinea

Code: D16-07

Date: April 2016 - December 2017

Location: Sierra Leone

Client: Royal Netherlands Embassy, Ghana, through the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)

Type of services:

  • Coordination of work package 2: Laboratory Strengthening
  • Technical assistance to establish a human and animal health diagnostic and research laboratory at Njala University, including training on laboratory quality management and the LQSI tool, provision of onsite mentoring for the implementation of quality management processes and provision of distance assistance with implementation of quality management processes.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the activities of Work package 2 of the project


[11 Aug 2016] In the wake of the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa, the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Accra, Ghana is funding a 2-year project to assist institutes in Sierra Leone and Guinea to build sustainable systems to answer emerging diseases and future epidemic threats. This project has 3 work packages: (1) community involvement; (2) laboratory strengthening; and (3) results based finances. The project brings together partners from 4 African countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Rwanda) to formulate innovative African solutions for African challenges. Crucial in this is the One Health concept, that recognizes that humans, animals and the environment are all crucial elements in ensuring health.

The role of DATOS

At the request of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the coordinator of the project, DATOS performs the monitoring and evaluation of the laboratory strengthening work package and trains and guides the newly established laboratory at Njala University in Sierra Leone to implement a quality management system for ensuring reliable results.

The current meeting: coordinating activities

From 8 to 10 August Linda Oskam participated in the mid-term coordination meeting in Conakry Guinee, during which successes and challenges were discussed and the way forward was agreed upon. As part of the meeting, the participants visited the private Health Focus laboratory in Conakry at the invitation of of Dr. Yansane, who is also the lead in Guinea on the results-based financing package. Source: //

[17 Oct 2016] The Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana is supporting a Post-Ebola Resilience Project in Sierra Leone and Guinee. Part of this project, which is coordinated by KIT, is the establishment of a virology laboratory at Njala University in Central Sierra Leone. After upgrading of the facilities, the laboratory is now ready to roll. Providing quality laboratory services is crucial.

As trained laboratory workers are scarce in Sierra Leone (there were only 60 of them before the Ebola outbreak started), capacity building is an integral and very important part of the project.

First, the laboratory staff received technical training from Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research from Ghana. From 11-15 October DATOS trained 9 young, enthusiastic laboratory staff members in quality management.

At the end of the training, the participants made an action plan with which they will start implementing a quality management system in the laboratory. Source: //

[1 Nov 2016] Our work on laboratory strengthening at Njala University together with KIT was published in Sierra Leone's national newspaper!

Source: //

[31 Jan 2017] This month Tjeerd Datema has assisted with the construction of the Njala University Animal Health Science Serology and Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in Sierra Leone. This laboratory is being constructed with funding from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana as part of a large-scale project coordinated by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in The Netherlands, in response to the Ebola epidemic that ravaged the country in 2014. The diagnostic laboratory capacity has suffered greatly from the Ebola epidemic, the same epidemic that showed the importance of well-functioning diagnostic laboratories in fighting major disease outbreaks. Priority now is to get the laboratory sector in Sierra Leone back on its feet by increasing the diagnostic testing and disease surveillance capacity. DATOS assist KIT with the implementation of the project by guiding the construction of the laboratory that will operate under the OneHealth approach, serving both human and animal health. This is done on a continuous basis since 2016 through distance assistance and by regular onsite assistance. Source: //

[5 Oct 2017] DATOS just completed its third support mission to the Njala University Serology and Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in Sierra Leone. This laboratory was constructed to provide diagnostic services for viral haemorrhagic fevers, rabies and influenza, and to conduct research in animal and human health.

The purpose of the mission was to guide the implementation of a quality management system based on phases 1 and 2 of WHO’s Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation (LQSI) tool, and was conducted as part of the project ‘Preparedness against Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases in Sierra Leone and Guinea’ led by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the Netherlands, and funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Accra, Ghana.

DATOS’s first activity in Njala, conducted in October 2016, was to train laboratory staff members on principles of quality management and introduce them to the LQSI tool. This was followed by a technical assistance mission in January 2017, during which staff were trained on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) preparation, and the laboratory was assessed according to the LQSI checklist. Activities during the latest mission included finalisation of the SOPs prepared by staff, and the introduction of a document control system. Source: //

[15 Dec 2017] From 10 to 14 December 2017, Linda Oskam was at Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR) in Accra, Ghana on behalf of KIT (Royal Tropical Institute). From 2015 until the end of 2017 NMIMR and DATOS/KIT supported the establishment of a serology and molecular biology laboratory at Njala University in Central Sierra Leone in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis. This is part of a bigger Post-Ebola resilience project that was supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Accra, Ghana.

During the final meeting, the laboratory staff presented the outcomes of their work and performed some tests that they are currently not able to do in their own laboratory. In addition, the management and activities for sustainability were discussed with the management of the laboratory. Source: //

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