• FAQs

Uganda Virus Research Institute



EPI Laboratory


General Objective:

  • To carry out surveillance and research on vaccine preventable diseases

Specific Objectives:

  1. To support laboratory backed surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in the countries of the Great Lake region
  2. To carry out measles and rubella surveillance in support of the Uganda National Expanded program for Immunisation.
  3. To carry out vaccine potency testing for polio and measles vaccines.
  4. To carry out research on vaccine preventable diseases.
  • To function as a WHO Measles and Rubella Regional Reference Laboratory.
  • The EPI laboratory is a designated WHO-Inter-country polio laboratory since 1996 and a WHO Measles and Rubella Regional Reference Laboratory since 2000. The laboratory acts a national measles and polio laboratory supporting the Uganda National Expanded program (UNEPI) in monitoring its performance. The laboratory is WHO accredited to perform Polio, Measles and Rubella laboratory activities. The laboratory has nineteen staff. This includes five Research officers, two Scientific officers, three laboratory technologists, two laboratory assistants, two data clerks, two administrative assistants (one also working as a data clerk) and four support staff (two drivers and two janitors).  
  • As a WHO Inter-country Polio laboratory, the EPI Laboratory serves Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda. In this role, the laboratory carries out laboratory backed Acute Flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance for all the countries above. The laboratory cultures stool samples for entero-viruses in search for Wild poliovirus and Vaccine derived Poliovirus. In addition, the laboratory carries out Environmental surveillance for Polio from sewage samples from South Sudan and Uganda. After the growth of enteroviruses from stool and, or sewage the laboratory confirms the presence or absence of wild poliovirus and vaccine derived poliovirus through intra-typic differentiation, a method that uses Real time PCR test.
  • As a WHO Measles and Rubella Regional Reference Laboratory the laboratory serves Comoros, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda supporting the national measles laboratories in those countries. The roles of the laboratory in this capacity include carrying out quality assurance activities for the countries served. This includes training of staff in measles and rubella diagnostics, quality control testing for the serological tests carried out and review/accreditation visits to the national measles laboratories on WHO request. Additional roles of the laboratory include distribution of measles and rubella testing kits and reagents and serology proficiency panels to the laboratories served or to other countries in WHO AFRO region on request from WHO. The laboratory carries out measles and rubella virus isolation and characterization for the national measles laboratories served that do not have the capacity to do so. In this role the laboratory provides information on the circulating measles and rubella strains causing outbreaks in that country. The laboratory also carries out research on measles and rubella virus and provides technical advice to WHO.
  • The EPI Laboratory supports UNEPI in various activities. This includes provision of information on whether there is any circulating wild poliovirus or vaccine derived poliovirus, measles or rubella infection or outbreaks in the country. Rubella surveillance includes congenital rubella surveillance at two sentinel sites. This above information provides feedback to UNEPI on its performance in vaccination activities and guides UNEP’s decisions on vaccination interventions. The EPI laboratory carries out vaccine potency testing of oral polio and measles vaccines. In addition, the EPI laboratory trains field officers in collection of samples for polio, measles and rubella surveillance. The laboratory supports UNEPI in supervision of surveillance and immunization activities in the districts.
  • The EPI laboratory carries out research on vaccine preventable diseases in various areas including: basic science, epidemiological and operational research. EPI Laboratory has researched on enteroviruses (includes Polio), Measles, Rubella, Rotavirus, Hepatitis and febrile illnesses with rashes. Ongoing research is on Evaluation of feasibility and usability of Measles IgM point of care in the surveillance program and Molecular characterisation of enteroviruses.
  •  Research activities are carried out in collaboration with Arbovirology Department at the institute, Ministry of Health, WHO, CDC Atlanta, Glassgow University and Public Health England, UK.

Funders for the Lab activities

  • Ministry of Health
  •  World Health Organisation
  • Public Health England