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Laboratory Systems Strengthening

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Recognizing the need

Medical laboratories are a critical component of quality health care, and provide essential data for patient care and treatment, disease prevention and control, and public health policy development. Medical laboratory services must be accurate, timely, and reliable, yet in many resource-constrained countries, laboratories still provide poor quality testing that is often unreliable, untimely, or altogether incorrect. Development of functional laboratory systems is increasingly recognized as a key component of sustainable health care systems. Global efforts to ameliorate the burden of HIV and associated infections over the last 15 years, as well as devastating outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola, have illuminated the need for further support of global laboratory systems development. Effective laboratories and functioning national laboratory systems require a competent workforce, effective leadership and management, and an underpinning of laws and regulations that ensure quality of services, and whose policies shape processes and mechanisms for optimal laboratory system performance and international cooperation as required by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations.

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Impact

I-TECH recognizes laboratory strengthening as a core component of its work. I-TECH’s Laboratory Systems Strengthening (LSS) team’s mission is to improve laboratory operations for optimal patient care and treatment, disease surveillance and response, biosecurity, and policy development. The LSS group fosters the development of sustainable laboratory systems and laboratory capacity in multiple countries throughout the world and comprises staff at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, as well as locally based staff. The team leverages partnerships within UW and with external collaborators globally, and engages directly with Ministries of Health and funders to accomplish mutual objectives.

Activities

  • The Professional Certificate Program in Laboratory Leadership and Management (North Africa and the Middle East (10 countries), 2014; Zambia 2016-17, Cote d’Ivoire 2016-present)
  • In-service Quality Management Systems (QMS) training, mentoring and implementation (Botswana 2009-14, Cambodia and Lao PDR 2013-16, Zambia 2016-17, Cote d’Ivoire 2016-present), Biosafety training (Cote d’Ivoire 2016-present)
  • Supporting early infant HIV diagnosis in Ethiopia by strengthening national laboratories (2009-14), strengthening in-service clinician training on use and interpretation of HIV viral load testing and monitoring (Mozambique 2015-16)
  • Development and support of national proficiency testing programs (Botswana 2008-16)
  • Strengthening pre-service educational programs in medical laboratory science (South Africa 2014-present; Botswana 2010-14; Mozambique 2015-16)
  • Support of strategic planning and policy development to address laboratory practice (WHO/EMRO, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, 2009-present, Cote d’Ivoire, 2016-present)
  • Support for development of laboratory referral networks (Ethiopia 2009-13, Zambia 2016-17, Cote d’Ivoire  2016-present)
 
The LSS team’s activities have been financially supported by the CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Department of State.
 
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