Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory

Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory, Bridgetown, Barbados

Barbados Best-dos Santos Public Health Lab became one of the first in the Caribbean to acquire test kits and reagents for COVID-19 detection, with concurrent training of laboratory personnel in the new testing protocol. The provision of COVID-19 test kits and training was made possible by the PAHO Health Emergencies Department, who has worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to enhance national capacity in response to the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Virus detection requires high complexity tests that identify the specific genetic fingerprint of the virus. To support the implementation of the virus detection in Barbados, PAHO conducted training at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory. The two-day training, which commenced on 10 February 2020, was facilitated by Virologist Dr. Lionel Gresh. Included in the training was a review of the current knowledge about this novel pathogen and the hands-on implementation of its detection. Dr. Gresh said that: “A highly-motivated team that included five medical laboratory technologists and the laboratory Director participated in the training, and as a result, Barbados now has the capacity of testing any case that might fit the current testing criteria for COVID-19.”

Mrs. Songee Beckles, Director of the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory (third from left), said:

“Training went very well. The staff of the molecular department of the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory is excited and confident in performing the new test for novel Coronavirus 2019.”
She noted that they were pleased as the Ministry of Health and Wellness can use the National Coronavirus Response test to screen for and confirm the virus if suspected cases appear in Barbados.

In his remarks on the training, Dr. Yitades Gebre, newly appointed PAHO/WHO Representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean countries (PWR-ECC), emphasized that:

“In the management of the new COVID-19 in the Caribbean, timely and accurate laboratory testing of specimens from cases under investigation is urgently needed.”

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