Role of laboratory professionals vital in COVID-19 response

Role of laboratory professionals vital in COVID-19 response
Role of laboratory professionals vital in COVID-19 response

Akhrielie Kesiezie is a Laboratory Technologist, who is part of the BSL-3 lab team at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima. (Morung Photo) 
 

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | May 15


Every day, laboratory professionals around the world are exposed to the risk of contracting an infectious disease while performing their duty of testing blood and other body fluids, to help provide an accurate diagnosis of a patient. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, they continue to play a critical role in determining whether individuals are infected with coronavirus or not. 


Akhrielie Kesiezie is a Laboratory Technologist, who is part of the BSL-3 lab team at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK). “We are mostly confined to the laboratory collecting samples and doing blood tests for diagnosis of a disease,” he states while asserting that if the test at this stage is not done accurately and properly, the entire treatment process of a patient will go wrong. “It is often not possible to come to a conclusion about a patient’s state of health based only on the symptoms”, he divulges while pointing to the responsibility they hold as laboratory professionals in providing accurate laboratory findings.


“Without reliable medical laboratory support, patients are less likely to receive the best possible care, resistance to essential drugs may develop and continue to spread, the source of disease may not be identified correctly, epidemics and spread of major communicable diseases will not be cleared reliably,” he further impresses upon.


Dwelling on the challenges of being a laboratory professional, he expresses, “we never know whether it is contagious or not. It could be Hepatitis, HIV or Tuberculosis…we are always dealing with them.” Now with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, there is definitely more risk involved. However, Akhrielie Kesiezie considers it a privilege to be part of the BSL-3 Team at NHAK and exudes hope that one day it will become a full-fledged lab while looking at the brighter side of it. “We will have to take extra precaution at this time but I can see that there will be so many benefits especially in the field of research,” he states.


Akhrielie Kesiezie has an M.Sc degree in Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) and has been working at the Para Medical Training Institute, Kohima since 2013. He initially joined as a lecturer and later in 2015, became a Tutor Technician. The Para Medical Training Institute (PMTI) in Kohima which was established in the year 1973 is one of the oldest para medical institutes in the North East.


In its initial years, the institute offered only certificate courses in Pharmacy and MLT. While it remained non-functional for a certain period of time in the later years, the PMTI resumed in the year 2013 and has since been offering full-fledged courses. Beginning with an enrolment of just 10 students, the PMTI currently has an enrolment of 20 students. With two regular staff who holds M.Sc in Medical Laboratory Technology and Biology respectively, the Institute frequently brings in medical officers as guest lecturers for its classes that take place from 10:00 to 2:30 pm from Mondays to Fridays.