PESHAWAR: The organizational structure of the Public Health Reference Laboratory (PHRL), Khyber Medical University (KMU), Peshawar, has been reinforced with specialists in infectious diseases and public health.
A notification issued by the establishment section of the university stated that Dr. Yasar Mehmood Yousafzai will work as director PHRL, Dr. Asif Ali additional director PHRL, Dr. Inayat Shah In-charge Serology, Dr. Ihsan ullah In-charge Mobile Lab BCL-2, Dr. Taj Ali Khan In-charge Microbiology, Dr. Saeed Ur Rahman In-charge Molecular biology, Dr. Ishaq Khan In-charge Advance Centre for Genomics Technologies and Dr. Khalid Rahman Public Health Consultant.
According to details this change has been done as part of ‘The PHRL Transformation Plan’. This plan, in addition to Covid-19 testing, PHRL will initiate testing of 40 modifiable diseases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As per the plan, Covid-19 testing capacity will be utilized, and additional 4 laboratories of PHRL will be strengthened. These include Serology, microbiology, genomic sequencing, molecular biology, and mobile testing laboratory. With these changes, PHRL will be able to test BSL-II plus level dangerous pathogens such as Congo fever, Dengue Fever, Typhoid, and Cholera.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor KMU, Professor Dr. Zia ul Haq appreciated the workforce at PHRL for making this ambitious plan. He stated that the lab leadership, including Dr. Yasar Yousafzai, and Dr. Asif Ali, have worked extremely hard to establish and recognize the lab with exemplary performance during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the province of KP has no central facility for the diagnosis of many other diseases of public health significance. Therefore, it is necessary that PHRL not only initiates testing of commonly endemic diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dengue, and measles but also prepare for unforeseen outbreaks such as Congo-Crimean Hemorrhagic fever. He stated that the reconstituted laboratory will include specialist microbiologists, serologists, public health specialists, and molecular biologists.
It is worth mentioning that the PHRL has been carried out so far round about 1.6 million Covid-19 tests and the purpose of an infectious diseases laboratory is with testing infectious diseases, prevention of outbreaks, and give policy guidelines. Such a role is performed by the National Institute of Health at the federal level and is being assumed by the PHRL at the provincial level as per new mandate.