Lab Matters Fall 2016 - Page 6

global health APHL Powers Labs in Africa by Edward Mwansa, energy consultant, Global Health; and Kaiser Shen, MSc, MPH, senior specialist, Global Health Over the past five years, APHL, in collaboration with CDC, has supported energy infrastructure improvements and offered technical support to ensure reliable power for critical loads at laboratories in Zambia and South Sudan. The association has employed uninterruptible power systems (UPS), automatic voltage regulators (AVRs), standby generators and solar systems. Zambia South Sudan In 2013 and 2014, when two rehabilitated generators were installed at University Teaching Hospital to power its hematology and chemistry labs, APHL assisted with technical support, procuring needed parts and outsourcing for the vendor. At Chipata General Hospital (main and PCR labs), Kapata Referral Clinic and Levy General Hospital, APHL installed UPSs and AVRs. Prior to installation, the hospitals experienced frequent equipment breakdowns due to low voltage and lags in turn-around time for testing. Levy General Hospital laboratory manager Linda Sikakwa is enthusiastic about the result, “Since the UPSs were installed, we have had no disruptions on the operations of the labs, even when power is off, in the past two years since the energy improvements were done.” With the high cost of fuel and operational costs associated with standby generators and low voltages due to power deficits, generator systems are not the perfect solution for laboratories. So APHL is moving to more sustainable solar solutions, which have minimal operational and maintenance costs. Fewer equipment breakdowns and disruptions to laboratory services save lives, not only in Zambia, but in other countries faced with similar problems. I am proud and grateful to be a part of these important projects. In July 2016, APHL assisted the South Sudan Public Health Laboratory to install 96 solar panels, and 84 solar panels at the Blood Transfusion Center. Also installed were 20 sets of batteries rated at 5000 Ah each to store unused solar energy for future use. Though budget constraints forced the program to scale down from four sites to two, the local Ministry of Health was very satisfied with the installation and looks forward to implementing additional solar systems at its other facilities. A Foundation for Future Success Building on the lessons learned during the solar project in South Sudan, APHL recently completed energy assessments at select laboratories in Zimbabwe where it will oversee the bid process for solar equipment. According to APHL energy consultant Edward Mwansa, who has worked on these energy improvement projects, “Fewer equipment breakdowns and disruptions to laboratory services save lives, not only in Zambia, but in other countries faced with similar problems. I am proud and grateful to be a part of these important projects.” Refurbished generator for the chemistry lab at Zambia’s University Teaching Hospital Solar panels installed in South Sudan at the public health lab 4 LAB MATTERS Fall 2016 PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org