Mobile Laboratory Transforms Healthcare in Mombasa County

Mombasa CEC Health, Dr. Swabaha Ahmed Omar makes her remarks during the meeting

In the heart of Mombasa County, a remarkable transformation is taking place. The introduction of the Bionear mobile diagnostic laboratory has ushered in a new era of healthcare accessibility, improving the lives of countless individuals and communities.

The success of this initiative, mooted by the JKUAT Digital Health Applied Research Centre (DHARC) in collaboration with Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostic (FIND) and Praesens Care, has not only brought about enhanced healthcare services but also opened doors to a range of new opportunities and business value propositions that promise a brighter and healthier future.

This was established when the DHARC team led by Principal Investigator, Prof. Simon Karanja presented results of a four-month pilot phase on the use of Bionear to support routine and surveillance diagnostic services in Mombasa County to the CEC Health, Dr. Swabaha Ahmed Omar, October 24, 2023.

The objective of the pilot phase, conducted in six Mombasa sub-counties, namely Likoni, Nyali, Jomvu, Changamwe, Mvita, and Kisauni, was to support the Mombasa CHSIP 2018-2022 plan by augmenting, reinforcing, and improving the existing laboratory diagnostic services capacity in the county.

Roundtable discussion between DHARC JKUAT and Mombasa County Department of Health

According to Prof. Karanja, access to quality healthcare remains a pressing issue in many parts of Mombasa County, especially in areas with fewer healthcare facilities or limited diagnostic capacities. Informal settlements and remote regions have long grappled with inadequate healthcare services. However, the Bionear mobile laboratory is changing this narrative.

“The mobile diagnostic laboratory is a beacon of hope in areas previously underserved by healthcare infrastructure. Equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and staffed by skilled professionals, it delivers critical healthcare services to those who need them most,” reported Prof. Karanja.

With its mobility, the mobile laboratory reaches deep into informal settlements and remote areas, bridging the gap and ensuring that individuals receive accurate diagnoses and timely treatment.

As established during the pilot, the laboratory can go beyond the call of duty by offering additional test menus, including ANC profile tests. This expansion of services has the potential to save lives and prevent health complications that frequently afflict mothers and children in facilities lacking adequate diagnostic equipment.

Ratifying the executive summary of the findings is CEC Health, Dr. Swabaha Ahmed Omar (center) and Chief Officer, Public Health and Prevention, Mr. Abdullahi Jughe. Looking on (from left) are Dr. Serah Kaggia, Prof. Simon Karanja and Dr. Reuben Thuo

CEC Health, Dr. Omar, expressed her gratitude to the team for selecting Mombasa County as the pilot location for the project. She said the collaborative effort showcases the potential for innovative solutions to tackle healthcare challenges and enhance the county’s overall healthcare infrastructure.

“The mobile laboratory has proven to be a valuable asset in advancing the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, ultimately contributing to better healthcare outcomes and public health in the region,” said Dr. Omar.

While recognizing that the laboratory has become a vital resource for vulnerable populations, providing early detection and timely intervention to safeguard the well-being of the community, Dr. Omar, was confident that the diagnostic data generated by the pilot project would play a pivotal role in the development of improved health interventions for the betterment of the county.

During the pilot phase of the project, the focus was primarily on communicable diseases in Mombasa County demonstrating a proactive approach to address health challenges that are not only detrimental to individual well-being but also have broader public health implications.

Principal Investigator, Prof. Simon Karanja presents the results of a four-month pilot phase on the use of Bionear to support routine and surveillance diagnostic services in Mombasa County to the CEC Health, Dr. Swabaha Ahmed Omar

The next phase would be to also address the issue of Non-communicable diseases that are on the rise, burdening patients who often require referrals to higher-level healthcare facilities. Using the mobile diagnostic laboratory, DHARC recognizes this challenge and hopes to incorporate tests for non-communicable diseases.

“By doing so, it greatly alleviates the burden on patients, providing them with more immediate access to essential diagnostics and care, reducing the need for referrals and long journeys to distant healthcare centers,” explained Prof. Karanja.

Among the project’s major successes was its swift response to disease outbreaks, particularly during the rotavirus and cholera outbreaks in Mombasa County. The mobile diagnostic laboratory demonstrated its pivotal role as not only a diagnostic facility but also a critical tool in disease surveillance and control.

The pilot showed that during outbreaks, the laboratory can be rapidly deployed to the affected areas, ensuring that testing and diagnostics are available when they are needed most.

According to Prof. Karanja, the project’s remarkable success paves the way for even greater prospects. The initiative can be scaled up by identifying gaps, opportunities, and priority areas for expansion. Mapping specific population strata and their unique healthcare needs will enable Mombasa County to tailor its services to different communities, further improving healthcare accessibility.

The story of the mobile diagnostic laboratory is not just one of success but also one of innovation, collaboration, and hope. In Mombasa County, this laboratory is transforming lives, ensuring that healthcare reaches the farthest corners, and setting a powerful example for the future of healthcare accessibility and delivery.

The pilot findings were also received by the Mombasa County, Chief Officer, Public Health and Prevention, Mr. Abdullahi Jughe. The result was delivered by the DHARC team, including Prof. Simon Karanja, Dr. Reuben Thuo, Dr. Jane Aduda, Prof. Fred Wamunyokoli, Dr. Joseph Machua, and Dr. Serah Kaggia.

Mobile Laboratory Transforms Healthcare in Mombasa County

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