In Pakistan the first case of Mpox was confirmed on 25th April 2023 followed by two more cases with travel history from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On 27th April 2023, the National Command & Operation Center (NCOC) of Pakistan identified the need to enhance national capacity for detection of Mpox virus. In this context, a two-day national training workshop on laboratory diagnosis of Mpox was jointly organized by UKHSA and NIH from 9th to 10th May, 2023 at Islamabad and participated by technical leads of national, provincial and regional public health reference Laboratories. Since, it was the first training on Mpox testing in Pakistan, the majority of the participants had limited or no experience of handling and testing specimen for Mpox. Total of twenty participants from provincial and regional public health reference labs attended the training with a diverse background in pathology, molecular biology and microbiology. The style of training delivery was technical presentations, interactive sessions, practical demonstrations, and hands-on sessions.
The general objective of training was; to develop the skills of lab workforce at national, provincial and regional level in laboratory diagnosis of Mpox. The specific objectives were;
To give an overview of epidemiology, modes of transmission, recent global and national status of Mpox
To familiarize the participants on types of specimens with collection, handling, and transportation of samples
To train participants on molecular detection of Mpox using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
To enhance participants' knowledge regarding infection control practices and biosafety protocols specific to Mpox specimens in the laboratory
The hands-on training sessions were organized at virology lab of NIH. The training module on differential molecular detection of Orthopoxvirus (Mpox) being developed by Prof. Christopher H. Logue was delivered as reference. The interactive session also Included the essentiality of unidirectional workflow in molecular diagnostic lab, use of safety cabinets, viral DNA extraction, PCR and quality control.
The training workshop ended with a vote of thanks from UKHSA and NIH for the active engagement and commitment of the participants to develop their knowledge and skills. Participants shared their learning reflections related to training material and delivery. They appreciated the response of UKHSA and NIH with reference to Mpox by conducting a national training workshop in two weeks’ time after the first case of Mpox reported from Pakistan. The NIH and UKHSA appreciated the commitment and active participation of participants throughout the training sessions.
By Ms. Sumera Abid / Dr. Syed Wasif Javed / Dr. Asif Bettani