I-TECH Tanzania led the development of the task-sharing policy guidelines for Health Sector Services approved in 2016 as well as the policy’s operational plan. While task-sharing is a widely known HIV service delivery efficiency strategy, still there is continues gaps between national strategies and actual implementation at the site-level [1,2].
Representatives from the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) attended the fourth international African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on 10-13 December 2018.
The theme this year focused on the role of laboratories in preventing and controlling the next pandemic. I-TECH had seven abstracts accepted at the conference that highlighted the laboratory systems strengthening work done by I-TECH in Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Zambia. The full abstracts presented by I-TECH can be found in the ASLM 2018 Conference Abstracts Conference Book.
Below is a summary of I-TECH presentations:
- Siew Kim Ong, I-TECH Cambodia Project Coordinator, was lead author and presenter for the “Improved Laboratory Compliance to Quality Standards in Cambodian Laboratories through On-site Trainings.” This abstract reviewed the effect of training in 12 I-TECH-mentored laboratories in Cambodia on laboratory processes (Page 27).
- Nayah Ndefru, I-TECH Seattle Laboratory Strengthening Specialist, presented an abstract titled, “Effectiveness of Using a Mixed Approach of On-site Mentoring and Tele-mentoring for Improving Laboratory Quality Management Systems: Lessons From Cambodia.” The presentation looked at the lessons learned in the implementation of a Quality Management System (QMS) in 12 national hospital laboratories throughout Cambodia and the 2018 pilot approach to addressing the QMS gaps identified in an earlier baseline survey (Page 55).
- Larissa Koffi, I-TECH Côte d’Ivoire RTCQI Specialist, presented two posters: One titled, “Analysis of EQA HIV Serology Data in Côte d’Ivoire Reveals Gaps in Quality Testing.” The second poster was “Analysis of HIV Point of Care Testing Sites in Côte d’Ivoire Reveals Gaps in Tester Competence.” The posters displayed the results of a retrospective study that can inform strategies and interventions for improved quality at HIV testing sites (Page 200).
- Sylvestre Kone, I-TECH Côte d’Ivoire Laboratory Quality Specialist, presented a poster titled “Improving Quality and Capacity of the Laboratory System in Côte d’Ivoire.” The poster detailed the work the team is doing to train and mentor laboratory staff in hospital laboratories towards achieving international quality standards (Page 242).
- Felicity Gopolang, I-TECH Laboratory Mentor Consultant, presented a poster titled, “Implementation of a Professional Development Program in Laboratory Leadership and Quality Management in Zambia from 2016-2018.” The poster outlined the impact of the Program on quality improvement (Page 206).
- Pat Sadate-Ngatchou, I-TECH Seattle Senior Laboratory Advisor, was lead author on the poster titled “Improvement of Quality Practices within HIV Point-of-Care testing (POCT) Sites in Côte d’Ivoire Through Implementation of the Rapid Test Continuous Quality Improvement (RTCQI),” which explored the impact of the implementation of RTCQI in POCT site audits (Page 246).
The mission of ASLM is to improve clinical and public health outcomes in Africa by enhancing professional laboratory practice, science and networks. Based on five strategic pillars, ASLM serves the community of laboratory professionals and promotes the value of strong medical laboratories to key stakeholders such as the Ministries of Health, research laboratories, and universities. ASLM is an independent, non-profit organization endorsed by the African Union and headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The I-TECH Certificate Program in Laboratory Leadership and Management (CPLLM) is a nine-month course that trains laboratory staff in supervisory positions leadership and management skills to make substantive and impactful improvements in laboratory testing quality and operations. The program was developed in 2013 and first piloted in 2014.
The International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) Ukraine, in partnership with the Ukrainian Family Medicine Training Center of Bogomolets National Medical University, conducted a three-day training course for clinical educators on principles and innovative methods for effective teaching. The course was held outside Kyiv from 18-20 September 2018.
Facilitating the training were Ann Downer, EdD, I-TECH Executive Director and Professor in the University of Washington Department of Global Health, and Michael Reyes, MD, MPH, I-TECH co-founder and Professor in the University of California, San Francisco Department of Family and Community Medicine.
The course focused primarily on new teaching methods and stronger instructional design for clinical courses taught by faculty, especially those with content on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria. The objectives included helping clinical educators to:
- strengthen learning objectives and measurement of student learning;
- vary their use of teaching methods; and
- revise lectures to make them more interactive.
The course modeled these objectives by using small group work and other teaching methods to increase engagement.
“Over the course of three days, I was able to learn techniques and best practices to actively engage my course participants into the learning process,” says Galyna Vynogradova, Associate Professor of the Ukrainian Family Medicine Training Center and participant of the training.
This training course is a part of a larger I-TECH effort to build the clinical and managerial capacity of HIV/AIDS service providers throughout Ukraine.
I-TECH will continue to support the National Department of Health (NDoH) in the process of strengthening the policy management and implementation systems with a focus on reaching the 90-90-90 targets.
I-TECH will support the implementation of a Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) phased intervention to enhance ward-based Outreach Team (WBOT).
I-TECH will support Human Resource and Primary Healthcare Directorate-led training and capacity development initiatives through training and mentoring activities based on gaps identified from assessment of health care worker competencies, with emphasis placed on the Professional Nurse.
In collaboration with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and The Knowledge Translation Unit, I-TECH is working with the National Department of Health (NDoH) to strengthen the integration of mental health services into routine chronic care within the primary health care system.
Through the South African Men’s HIV Self-Testing, I-TECH will demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of an intervention model utilizing community health workers and outreach team leaders to increase uptake of HIV testing and treatment initiation among undiagnosed HIV-positive men.
In honor of National Women’s Day in South Africa on 9 August, members of the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) team in South Africa organized a personal donation to faith-based organization Participate, Empower, Navigate (PEN), which provides services and support to at-risk populations such as the homeless, sex workers, and orphaned children.
“We were interested in supporting a program that works with women and we were introduced to the Ladies Arise program at PEN,” explains Lebogang Ntswane, I-TECH South Africa program manager.
Ladies Arise is a community support program for homeless women provided through PEN. Many of the women seeking support from the program have been forced into sex work to make an income. Through Ladies Arise, the women can access a drop-in center where they can use the facilities to shower, do laundry, and eat a meal.
The drop-in center also coordinates activities for the women like art classes, crochet, and Bible study. In addition to the fun and sometimes income-generating programs, Ladies Arise provides the women with social and mental health services, such as counseling with PEN’s volunteer social worker.
PEN is a donor-funded non-profit organization and relies on donations of all kinds to continue offering much-needed services in Pretoria. In addition to fundraising events and a major supermarket that donates food to the center on a monthly basis, PEN also relies on donations of clothing, toiletries, and shoes from the community.
“One of our colleagues had seen the idea of filling handbags with toiletries in a magazine,” says Ntswane, “and we decided it would be a great way to commemorate National Women’s Day and assist the women in our community.”
I-TECH South Africa staffers donated the bags filled with new toiletries, as well as clothing and new packs of underwear, a particularly high-need item at the center.
In addition to donations, I-TECH team members had the chance to sit down with recipients over breakfast to learn about their stories. “One woman reported that she met with the center coordinator and was introduced to the Ladies Arise program. She is now attending a cosmetology course,” says Ntswane. “We are so glad that we found this organization, and we look forward to continuing our personal support of PEN whenever possible.”