News & Media

Uganda Ministry of Health Collaborates with MHS and NAS for High Tech, High Volume COVID-19 PCR Testing Laboratory

Kampala, Uganda : Thursday, October 8, 2020

Lucasz Skorupa, Head of Commercial, NAS Group and Nouamane Zahouani, General Manager, NAS Uganda at the opening.

National economies are hard hit by travel restrictions and closures of airports in response to the COVID 19 crisis. The world is now moving towards easing lock downs, re-opening airports and the re-establishment of air travel to secure economic growth and development. To ensure this is done safely, and to minimize risks to national population the establishment of state of the art, high throughput and quick testing laboratories for COVID-19 becomes essential.

To drive efforts in this sphere and facilitate international travel, Microhaem Scientifics and Medical Supplies Ltd (MHS) and National Aviation Services (NAS) have collaborated with the Uganda Ministry of Health to set up a high tech, high volume COVID-19 PCR laboratory. The Uganda Ministry of Health is leading the way by becoming the first in the Africa to introduce the visionary idea of MUNA to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the country as well as to other countries where infected passengers could be flying.

The “Test and Fly Laboratory” is fully equipped with the PCR (molecular) test equipment as well as a verification and tracking software solution with integrated systems that allows for a quick test and results. All of this will be managed under the supervision of the Uganda Ministry of Health in order to meet international standards and requirements.

Cedric Akwesigye, Managing Director of Microhaem Laboratories (MHL) explained: “Microhaem Scientifics and Medical Supplies Ltd (MHS), is medical supplies company with a wide range of medical products and has gained grounds as the leading medical supplies company in the region. Microhaem has different divisions such as supplies, pharma and medical logistics. Our new baby on block is our Diagnostics Division, Microhaem Laboratories (MHL). Under MHL, we manage the Test and Fly laboratory dedicated to COVID-19 testing. The facility is open to everyone for PCR testing with results sent automatically to the customer, airport authority, airlines and the company that issued the passenger’s ticket in the case of travelers. The results are also available on block chain database, the Medical Utility Network Accreditor (MUNA) within a span of 6 to 8 hours.”

NAS, a leading provider of aviation services and solutions, introduced MUNA, a trailblazing mobile application that focuses on managing and storing diagnostic data to enable secure, digitized travel passes. By utilizing state of the art block chain technology, MUNA seamlessly integrates MHL’s PCR test laboratory with the Uganda MOH systems. This helps build a database of all the people that are tested.

Nouamane Zahouani, General Manager at NAS Uganda (formerly Entebbe Handling Services) explained: “We are pleased to collaborate with the Uganda Ministry of Health and MHL for the pilot project of our pioneering solution – MUNA. By integrating MUNA with the MHL and MOH systems, our goal is to provide a safer airport environment with minimal disruptions and a better passenger experience while maintaining productivity of airline staff. It is also important to highlight that while validating COVID-19 PCR test results, MUNA utilizes block chain technology and data encryption to protect all passenger information and maintain their rights to privacy.”

MUNA helps monitor all passengers travelling out of Uganda. MOH staff stationed outside the airport are equipped with special handheld devices that verify the PCR test results before a person even enters the airport so there is lesser crowding and disruption at the airport. This greatly assists with maintaining the required social distancing in the airport and makes the airport experience safer and more comfortable for passengers. The solution not only improves safety and authenticity but also provides a sustainable solution by reducing paper documentation through an online interface. It also has a wide scope for further development which includes integration into the airlines document systems.

The Uganda Ministry of Health has done an excellent job in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Uganda is now ranked among the 10 best countries in the world in managing the pandemic. One of the contributing factors to this has been its quality excellence in local laboratories.

Dr. Charles Olaro, Director of Clinical Services at Uganda Ministry of Health highlighted, “The Government of Uganda is also committed to prevent global COVID-19 transmission in and outside its boundaries and therefore committed to testing anyone entering or exiting the country. We are pleased that MHS and NAS have joined hands with the Government of Uganda to provide high quality testing facilities that are of International standards to travelers, tourists and the general public. The lab has successfully met the standards for quality assurance with modern equipment, robust information systems and highly competent personnel. As the Ministry of Health, we will offer supervisory and regulatory roles to Test and Fly laboratories to attend the highest quality services in order to achieve Government of Uganda objectives of breaking the transmission cycle within its borders.”