FROM THE FOREFRONT OF CAMBODIA’S FIGHT AGAINST THE PANDEMIC
The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) was first established in Cambodia in 1953 with a mission to carry out life science and health research on infectious diseases and emerging pathogens.
Operating under both the Cambodian Ministry of Health and the French Institut Pasteur, IPC was chosen as the designated World Health Organization (WHO) International Reference Laboratory for COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic in April 2020.
‘We were assigned to handle all the first PCR tests here in Cambodia’, Pr André Spiegel, Director of IPC said. ‘COVID-19 was a new disease. We need to learn the technique and also be able to meet the demand to provide results quickly to allow better contact tracing’.
Through the EU Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, the EU immediately mobilised €200 000 to support the crucial role of IPC during the critical phase of the pandemic.
Within the framework of MEDILABSECURE, a project aimed at strengthening preparedness and response capacities to emerging infectious diseases, the support enabled IPC to acquire more PCR test kits, conduct sequencing and enhance hospital-based surveillance.
A further €220 000 has recently been allocated by the EU to strengthen biosecurity infrastructure and equipment at IPC, with work expected to begin in the third quarter of 2022.
IPC has conducted over 900 000 tests to date and continues to play a crucial role in Cambodia’s fight against the pandemic. ‘Vigorous testing and contract tracing as well as the very high vaccination rate played a big role in reducing our number of cases’, Spiegel concluded.