In response to the global COVID-19 threat, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at the U.S. Embassy Tashkent, recently donated 1,000 tests to the Uzbekistan Ministry of Health (MOH). The donation was made in conjunction with practical training provided by experts from DTRA’s prime contractor in Tashkent, TMC Global Professional Services (TMC). The training took a stepwise approach to increase the testing capacity of MOH diagnostic laboratories.
The first step entailed refreshing the skills of five experienced MOH professionals who were then able to train 17 laboratory specialists on the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing technique, which is the only WHO recommended method for novel coronavirus detection.
The training began on April 7, 2020 at the Tashkent Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education (TIPME) and then widened to include the Republican Center for the Prevention of Plague, Quarantine, and Most Hazardous Infections Laboratory (CPPQMHI) in Tashkent, Bukhara and Nukus. Additional training was delivered to laboratories located outside of Tashkent via remote access equipment provided to TIPME by DTRA. This innovative video system allowed trainers, based in Tashkent, to mentor professionals in areas where on-site training has traditionally been more challenging.
As a result of two weeks of mentorship by DTRA contractors, a total of 22 MOH specialists – including 8 trainers – became qualified and are currently performing COVID-19 testing at their respective laboratories. This type of support from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent to the Ministry of Health enhances the ability of MOH’s diagnostic laboratories located throughout Uzbekistan to continue their crucial role in assuring public safety by delivering accurate test results promptly.