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      Assessment of three medical and research laboratories using WHO AFRO_SLIPTA Quality Standards in Southwestern Uganda: a long way to go

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          While the laboratory represents more than 70% of clinical diagnosis and patient management, access to reliable and quality laboratory diagnostics in sub-Saharan Africa remains a challenge. To gain knowledge and suggest evidence based interventions towards laboratory improvement in Southwestern Uganda, we assessed the baseline laboratory quality standards in three medical and research laboratories in Southwestern Uganda.


          We conducted a cross sectional survey from October, 2013 to April, 2014. Selected laboratories, including one private research, one private for profit and one public laboratory, were assessed using the WHO AFRO_SLIPTA checklist and baseline scores were determined.


          The three laboratories assessed met basic facility requirements, had trained personnel, and safety measures in place. Sample reception was properly designed and executed with a well designated chain of custody. All laboratories had sufficient equipment for the nature of work they were involved in. However, we found that standard operating procedures were incomplete in all three laboratories, lack of quality audit schemes by two laboratories and only one laboratory enrolled into external quality assurance schemes. The SLIPTA scores were one star for the research laboratory and no star for both the public and private-for-profit laboratories.


          While most of the laboratory systems were in place, the low scores obtained by the assessed laboratories reflect the need for improvement to reach standards of quality assured diagnostics in the region. Therefore, routine mentorship and regional supportive supervision are necessary to increase the quality of laboratory services.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Laboratory medicine in Africa: a barrier to effective health care.

          Providing health care in sub-Saharan Africa is a complex problem. Recent reports call for more resources to assist in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases that affect this population, but policy makers, clinicians, and the public frequently fail to understand that diagnosis is essential to the prevention and treatment of disease. Access to reliable diagnostic testing is severely limited in this region, and misdiagnosis commonly occurs. Understandably, allocation of resources to diagnostic laboratory testing has not been a priority for resource-limited health care systems, but unreliable and inaccurate laboratory diagnostic testing leads to unnecessary expenditures in a region already plagued by resource shortages, promotes the perception that laboratory testing is unhelpful, and compromises patient care. We explore the barriers to implementing consistent testing within this region and illustrate the need for a more comprehensive approach to the diagnosis of infectious diseases, with an emphasis on making laboratory testing a higher priority.
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            Requirements for high impact diagnostics in the developing world.

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              The World Health Organization African region laboratory accreditation process: improving the quality of laboratory systems in the African region.

              Few developing countries have established laboratory quality standards that are affordable and easy to implement and monitor. To address this challenge, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) established a stepwise approach, using a 0- to 5-star scale, to the recognition of evolving fulfillment of the ISO 15189 standard rather than pass-fail grading. Laboratories that fail to achieve an assessment score of at least 55% will not be awarded a star ranking. Laboratories that achieve 95% or more will receive a 5-star rating. This stepwise approach acknowledges to laboratories where they stand, supports them with a series of evaluations to use to demonstrate improvement, and recognizes and rewards their progress. WHO AFRO's accreditation process is not intended to replace established ISO 15189 accreditation schemes, but rather to provide an interim pathway to the realization of international laboratory standards. Laboratories that demonstrate outstanding performance in the WHO-AFRO process will be strongly encouraged to enroll in an established ISO 15189 accreditation scheme. We believe that the WHO-AFRO approach for laboratory accreditation is affordable, sustainable, effective, and scalable.

                Author and article information

                Pan Afr Med J
                Pan Afr Med J
                The Pan African Medical Journal
                The African Field Epidemiology Network
                10 October 2017
                : 28
                [1 ]Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
                [2 ]Epicentre Mbarara Research Centre, Mbarara, Uganda
                Author notes
                [& ]Corresponding author: Ivan Mugisha Taremwa, Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
                © Ivan Mugisha Taremwa et al.

                The Pan African Medical Journal - ISSN 1937-8688. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



                laboratory assessment, quality, iso 15189, slipta, accreditation


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