Reliable laboratory services underpin many aspects of health delivery across the world, such as accurately diagnosing disease and monitoring chronic conditions such as HIV and diabetes. However, they continue remain one of the most neglected components of health systems.
The reasons why laboratories have been so neglected range from failure to engage laboratory staff in key decisions to a limited focus on technology rather than on effective management systems. Marginalisation and chronic neglect of laboratory services means that results are inaccurate or unknown. Consequently patients are mismanaged, drugs are wasted and surveillance data is unreliable. Until poor countries develop laboratory services they can rely on, they will continue to be dependent on externally funded and therefore unsustainable, laboratory technology to monitor disease burden and the impact of disease control programmes.
We are committed to helping countries improve and expand the reach and quality of their laboratory networks. Sustainable and integrated capacity building is needed to effectively tackle the common health problems facing the majority of the population, particularly the most disadvantaged. We focus on supporting local health workers to provide high quality essential laboratory tests for the major health problems that affect poorer countries, such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and maternal health.
We have adapted the Capacity Strengthening Research in Medecine Units five-step pathway to help laboratories develop activities to develop sustainable quality services relevant to the needs of their countries and regions. We also work closely with national programmes to develop context appropriate systems to support accurate disease diagnosis across the health system and into the community.