The University of Zambia with help from the Ministry of Health has partnered with Hokkaido University from Japan through the Bio safety level 3 lab (BSL-3 Lab) to conduct research on infectious diseases. A University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Veterinary Medicine professor has urged government to continue investment in research on infectious diseases in the country.
Professor Aaron Mweene told the Lusaka Star in an interview that increased investment in infectious disease research would ensure the country be better prepared to handle infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus which was declared an international health emergency last year.
He thus revealed that UNZA with help from the Ministry of Health had partnered with Hokkaido University from Japan through the Bio safety level 3 lab (BSL-3 Lab) to conduct research on infectious diseases.
Professor Mweene said the research is aimed at diagnosing emerging and re-emerging diseases such as rabies, Ebola and influenza H1N1 (Swine flu).
"Back in 2009 when swine flu broke out, the Ministry of Health entrusted us to carry out some research and the first five cases in Zambia were diagnosed in this facility,” he claimed.
And BSL-3 Lab director, Hideaki Higashi of Hokkaido University said pathogens are very dangerous hence the need for research in the BLS-3 Lab.
Professor Higashi explained that the lab reaffirmed that safety of the lab adding that “it is separate from other labs and highly protected by specialised filters which do not allow viruses or pathogens to be emitted outside.”
The professor said there have been some strides made in their research so far.
“In Zambia, the influenza virus has been found in ducks and geese … it is harmless now but may have the potential of becoming dangerous,” said prof. Higashi.
He has since called on the Ministry of Health and key stakeholders to come on board and invest more in infectious disease research.