APHL has paired the Hawaii State Laboratories with Vietnamese national laboratories—the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the Pasteur Institute of Nha Trang—to strengthen these public health institutions and control the global spread of infectious diseases. The partnership is a natural one given that both Hawaii and Vietnam have experience testing for tropical diseases not commonly seen in the continental US.
Organized under the Global Health Security Agenda, the partnership fosters collaboration and supports mentorships, networking, technical assistance and training. Recently, with the support of APHL and CDC, trainers from Hawaii and from four Vietnamese regional public health laboratories convened in Nah Trang to master the Trioplex assay, a test used to detect Zika, Chikungunya and dengue virus RNA. The test is approved for use in the US under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.
Each phase of the training was carefully choreographed by APHL and Hawaii public health laboratory scientists, while the host laboratorians from the Pasteur Institute of Nha Trang ensured facilities, equipment and other materials were top notch. Lectures and discussions built to an interactive session on trouble shooting, data analysis and special considerations in running the test followed by more discussion of biosafety, workflow and sample collection. No facet of testing was too minor to omit.
Then it was time for hands-on practice in extraction, test set-up and preparation of testing materials and—Rule #1 of laboratory practice—following the test algorithm exactly as written. Ultimately all the trainees successfully completed the Trioplex competency assessment by correctly identifying which specimens in a verification panel contained the virus.
With Zika and other arboviruses spreading worldwide, the skills these scientists acquired will be applied immediately, marking another step toward a world safer from infectious diseases.