In 1965 a Clinical
& Public Health Division was set up at the then National Health
Laboratories to provide laboratory support for
timely prevention & control and technical support during
In addition to routine medical laboratory diagnostic services,
this Division successfully provided coverage over the years for
public health activities at national level. The Division is now
functional with the name of Public Health Laboratories Division
(PHLD) and is a WHO Collaborative Centre for Research and
Training in Viral Diagnostics since late 1970s. Eversince its
inception broad range of diagnostic services aiming public
health support have been added to already existing facilities.
This Division now comprises of the Departments of
Virology/Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Haematology,
Histopathology, Cyto-genetics, Chemical Pathology, Immunology,
Electron Microscope, Reproductive Physiology, Parasitology and
Environmental Health. In addition Epidemic Investigation Cell is
also the part of this Division. Besides service delivery for
laboratory diagnosis of communicable and non-communicable
diseases and epidemics, the PHLD has engaged in disease
surveillance, response and imparting technical training about
functions of the PHLD are as follows:
the Ministry of Health on health related matters especially
diagnosis and prevention of diseases and investigation of
as reference centre for the diagnosis and surveillance of
diseases especially the infectious diseases
This Division would provide diagnostic services to the general
public while taking in to account the highest possible quality
assurance norms, would function as research and training base
for laboratory professionals and take standard preventive
measures in case of disease outbreaks in the country.
Key Public Health Interventions and Programmes:
Response to Epidemics and
The Epidemic Investigation Cell of PHLD has provided technical
support in 565 epidemics reported across Pakistan during last
Seasonal Awareness & Alert Letter (SAAL) for epidemic prone
infectious diseases in Pakistan:
Three issues of SAAL i.e. Summer/Monsoon, Monsoon/Autumn and
winter are released regularly conveying information regarding
communicable diseases’ threats.
Meningitis Surveillance Project:
Bacterial Meningitis Surveillance Programme is being implemented
through the Microbiology Department, PHLD in collaboration with
WHO EMRO as its Regional Initiative. The programme aims at
generating data for sero-typing of meningitis causing fastidious
bacterial isolates, which could be used for inclusion of
specific vaccines in EPI.
Laboratory Support for Polio Eradication through Molecular
The regional reference laboratory (RRL) for polio eradication is
providing support to whole country. This evidence-based data
helps in identification of the strains and launch in time
control measures to check the polio incidence in the vulnerable
population. The facility has the capacity for molecular
sequencing of the virus, which is one of its kinds in the
Influenza Surveillance project with the technical assistance
from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta,
USA is being implemented. The project will help in the capacity
building of five provincial laboratories and strengthening of
existing virology laboratory at the PHLD.
Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (FELTP)
was launched in September 2006 to train the public health
officers in disease surveillance, outbreak investigation and
Successful Molecular Sequencing
of the poliovirus in the Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL) at
PHLD as a milestone public health achievement for the NIH and
the Ministry of Health.
Research and Publications:
Data generated through routine and specialized activities is
disseminated at national and international forums through
publications, presentations, and communication in scientific
Journals, conferences and seminars.
Human Resource Development:
The Public Health Laboratories Division is providing facilities
for practical training, orientation and research to health care
professionals on different aspects of laboratory medicine. A
large number of technologists, scientists and professionals have
been trained though training work shops/courses.
The PHLD has developed and printed the following Guidelines/
materials of public health importance:
National Guidelines on Quality Assurance in Laboratory
Seasonal Awareness and Alert letter (SAAL)
Guidelines for gastroenteritis including cholera control
Case definitions, management and prevention of infectious
Brochure for safe drinking water
Bio Safety Level-3
The construction of Bio-safety
level-3 laboratory is under process
Development /implementation of Projects & PC-1s:
Development of National Strategic Framework for Public
Health Laboratories Network (PHLN) in Pakistan.
Preparation and submission of PC-1 for PHLN.
Development of Memoranduma of Understanding with the
Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad and Pakistan Institute of
Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) for mutual academic
collaboration leading to Ph.D and other degrees.
Implementation of NIH-MoH-WHO Project on Health
Laboratory Support during biennium 2006-07.
Implementation of NIH-MoH-WHO Project on
Disease Early Warning System (DEWS).
The PHLD has developed a comprehensive Influenza Preparedness
Plan at an estimated cost of Rs. 22,07,40,000/-.