The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting nearly every country on the planet, including Indonesia. Laboratory capacity in terms of COVID-19 inspection capability and safety must be increased. COVID-19 testing is a necessity for certain activities as well as one of the screening strategies for discovering COVID-19 instances in the community.
Since the beginning of the pandemic until now, the number and capacity of COVID-19 examination laboratories in Indonesia has increased. It was not only government-owned and private laboratories, but also university laboratories. As of February 22, 2022, there are 985 COVID-19 testing laboratories in Indonesia. Based on the conducted mapping by INDOHUN through the OHLN program, there are 5% laboratories in universities. The Universities laboratory currently doesn’t have any network or forum for coordination and capacity building, in contrast to government laboratories which are currently coordinated by the Research and Development Agency. To that end, on February 24, 2022, INDOHUN-OHLN held a COVID-19 Laboratory Management Workshop and Introduction to the University Laboratory Network Communication Forum.
This activity is carried out in order to increase the ability and capacity of laboratories in universities and to introduce the initiatives related to the laboratory networks or consolidation activities to strengthen membership, especially COVID-19 reference laboratories in universities. This activity also invited 50 university laboratories that carried out COVID-19 testing. The activity began with an introductory session of INDOHUN-OHLN by Prof. dr. Agus Suwandono, M.PH, dr.PH (INDOHUN Coordinator), followed by remarks by Wahyuni Kamah (Biosecurity Engagement Program Indonesia) and finally remarks by Prof. Faisal Fathani (Plt. Director of Research and Technology & Community Service, Directorate General of Higher Education, Research and Technology – Ministry of Education and Culture, RI).
Then, the activity continued with two sessions. The first session of the workshop topic is “SARS CoV-2 Mutation” by Prof. Pratiwi Pujilestari Sudarmono, MD, PhD. The second is “The Role of the University Laboratory in the Detection of SARS-CoV 2 Mutations (Delta, Omicron and others)” by Dr. dr. Budiman Bela, Sp.MK(K). The last material was delivered by Dr. dr. Vivi Setiawaty, M. Biomed with topic “Lesson Learned: Management of SARS CoV-2 Lab Networks and COVID-19 Genome Surveillance Networks”
After the workshop session was finished, it was continued with the introduction of the University Laboratory Network Communication Forum by Agus Setiawan, MPH as the OHLN Program Manager. The purpose of holding this forum is to become a forum for communication and coordination between health laboratories in universities – especially the COVID-19 testing laboratory. The benefits of joining this laboratory forum includes, participated in regular network meetings and communications with stakeholders, the government, laboratory organizations/associations and others. Along with that, laboratory will have the opportunity to cooperate and collaborate between members, as well as stakeholders to encourage increased-laboratory-capacity. Laboratory will also expand the networking by being invited to regular networking activities (online and offline). Not only network, laboratory will gain information, knowledge, and experiences as well as obtaining the latest information on the development of policies/guidelines related to health laboratories (test methods, management system guidelines, and others).
The activity was followed by a discussion session. The discussion was carried out with 3 topics, namely “The Importance of the Role of the University Laboratory in the Detection of Infectious Diseases (Especially COVID-19) at this time”, “Proposed Efforts to Increase the Capacity of University Laboratories in the detection of PM and the last topic related to the management of the university laboratory network that are the referral for COVID-19 (Collaboration with the Director General of Diktirsitek)”. Each laboratory has different conditions, but all laboratory representatives agree on the importance of establishing a University Laboratory Network Communication Forum which can contribute to supporting capacity building and ability to examine the COVID-19 at university-level laboratories in Indonesia. INDOHUN-OHLN in the future will continue to be committed to following up on the inputs given by each laboratory in today’s activities.