Lab Matters Spring 2017 | Page 25

global health APHL Supports Laboratory Capacity in Sierra Leone by Palmira Mangae, associate specialist, Global Health T he Ola During Children’s Hospital (ODCH) and Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH), two pediatric hospitals in the center of Freetown, deliver most of the pediatric care in Sierra Leone, and their laboratories furnish critical testing capability for the country. APHL is centering efforts to build laboratory capacity at these two facilities—and progress is being made. Members of the Ebola virus outbreak Rapid Response Teams (RRTs), part of Sierra Leone’s outbreak surveillance program, have transitioned to laboratory response strengthening. They work with the hospitals and other laboratorians to test for diseases such as measles, rubella, yellow fever, cholera, shigella, HIV and influenza. APHL Activities APHL is supporting the ODCH and PCMH laboratories with reagents and equipment, supervisory visits, auditing of laboratory processes and technical assistance where needed. Recently, APHL Laboratory Program Support consultant, Esther Vitto, MD, evaluated laboratory safety practices, performed an inspection of the facilities, and discussed concerns and needs with the laboratory staff. With APHL’s assistance, both laboratories have shown improvement in laboratory techniques as well as faster testing turnaround times. These advances help clinicians to accurately diagnose patients based on reliable test results. Challenges Despite the improvements, the laboratories still face a myriad of challenges. Limitations include delays in sample delivery, problems with connectivity between computers and the equipment transcribing testing results, and inconsistent availability of Internet services. Future Strides As part of the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health’s strategic plan, APHL will continue to provide mentorship, training and technical assistance to the nation’s laboratory system. Services are expected to include: • Development of human resource capacity • Development of a quality assurance system • D  esign and implementation of a laboratory information management system (LIMS) Laboratory technician and RRT member Alhaji Kamara gives a laboratory tour at ODCH. • Strengthening the Central Public Health Laboratory Reference Networks • Upgrading peripheral, district and/or referral hospitals into a National Public Health Institute APHL Amazon Bookstore Stock up your library and support APHL! The APHL Amazon Bookstore has the latest public health, laboratory science, leadership, management and inspirational books. Stock up your library from and APHL will receive a portion of your purchase! /bookstore Send recommendations to [email protected] to help us grow our collection! PublicHealthLabs @APHL Spring 2017 LAB MATTERS 23