The main function of the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) cluster is to develop an effective, fit-for-purpose public health laboratory system that encompasses a network of laboratories. This is essential to provide specialized capabilities for the detection, prevention, control and response to diseases, public health threats and events of public health significance. Actualizing this entails, the establishment of an adequately resourced dedicated national public health reference laboratory appropriate infrastructure, equipment and competent staffing. The reference laboratory will serve as the ‘Apex’ laboratory in a multisectoral network of public health laboratories and institutions. In addition to establishing dedicated public health laboratories, efforts will continue to strengthen the capacity (human resource, equipment, systems, practices, etc.) of existing clinical laboratories, animal health sector laboratories, research laboratories and other participating entities. Based on their competencies and comparative advantage, these existing laboratories are recognized as a key component to enable the national public health laboratory system function optimally, in the spirit of ‘One Health’. On the whole, the national public health laboratory system is key to anchoring a coordinated and holistic system for surveillance, prevention and control of public health threats and the conduct of research. The mandate is facilitated through the following functions performed by the cluster which involve to;
- Establish a functional National Public Health Laboratory System to support surveillance, prevention and control of disease threats and other conditions of public health interest.
- Strengthen laboratory systems and networks to support emergency response to public health threats.
- Establish and maintain a Biorepository for collection, curation, storage, preservation and containment of specimens and materials from disease outbreaks, public health events, and other situations of public health interest.
- Reduce the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and stem its spread.