Lab Matters Winter 2019 | Page 21

GLOBAL HEALTH In Zimbabwe, Lab Mentor Fosters Advancing Systems By Jade Campbell, intern, Communications Michael Makaya, APHL’s senior laboratory mentor in Zimbabwe, is applying 20 years in medical laboratory science to improve laboratory systems in his country. With 15 years’ experience in public health laboratories, including 10 as a quality manager, plus expertise in HIV/AIDS, he is well qualified for the job. He is a graduate of the Strengthening Laboratory Management Toward Accreditation (SLMTA) program 1 and 2, and recently completed his degree in Public Administration & Management. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your lab? What are the day-to-day tasks of a lab mentor? To see a lab produce a quality result. We want to see people living with HIV get quality viral load results, which is one of the HIV 90-90-90 objectives. A lab mentor collaborates with laboratory workers to improve management of laboratory systems. I act as a facilitator, working with laboratory workers from the lowest to the highest level. Together we develop laboratory management systems to ensure that proper processes and policies are followed and working. I am currently working with 11 labs, auditing them to see their progress, teaching training sessions, and helping them to request laboratory supplies and equipment. Other tasks include regional communication and data reporting, laboratory logistics and coordinating transportation of specimens. What were your expectations for the position? When I got involved as a mentor, most labs lacked quality management, so I saw an opportunity to improve the entire system by talking with lab workers on all levels to identify ways to improve. One of our strengths is staff commitment to getting the job done efficiently and correctly. Our head lab manager, the driving force pushing us to improve, supports this commitment. Understaffing is a major weakness across our labs. Many are unable to staff effectively because eight hours isn’t enough time to finish the job. However, with APHL’s assistance, shift work is being implemented. What is your favorite part of your job? What attracted you to public health? In Zimbabwe, HIV has affected many residents and the community as a whole. It’s amazing to see the lab’s impact in the region and its ability to get care to those in need. There is still a long way to go but things are getting better. What makes this work meaningful to you? Every two years the African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) audits our labs, and this past year two of our labs received 3 stars. I’ve seen improvements in our labs but there are still many challenges. Our testing volume has increased substantially over the last four years from 5% to 61%, and the target for anti-viral load testing under HIV 90-90-90 is, as the name suggests, an ambitious 90%. With the help of APHL, CDC and PEPFAR, we were able to surpass Zimbabwe’s goal of 50%. n APHL Publishes New Guide to LIS International Implementations by Reshma Kakkar, manager, Global Health Informatics and Rachelle Jones, senior specialist, Global Health Informatics Since 2003, APHL has played a key role in the scale-up of laboratory information systems (LIS) in countries funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Strategies developed under this program are now being adopted by international initiatives such as the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). APHL’s LIS work has generated appreciation for a well-planned and implemented LIS and its impact on patient and public health. Through timely delivery of laboratory results, monitoring the quality of testing systems and generation of real-time disease surveillance test results, LIS has significantly increased the capability and capacity of diagnostic and public health laboratories. Versatile Resource To share successes, lessons learned and best practices from the last 15 years, APHL is pleased to present “Laboratory Information Systems Project Management: A Guide for International Implementations.” The publication, an update to APHL’s “Guidebook for Implementation of Laboratory Information Systems in Resource-Poor Settings,” marks the culmination of the association’s LIS experience over almost two decades. Developed with input from APHL’s Informatics Committee members, international consultants and APHL Global Health field staff in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, the new Guide helps laboratories to initiate and implement an LIS at any level—from a nationwide rollout to an individual laboratory application. It also offers guidance for laboratories choosing between rapid deployment of LIS tools and a gradual, iterative approach. This scenario occurs frequently in countries with swiftly developing technological capability. n For more information, contact Reshma Kakkar or Rachelle Jones. PublicHealthLabs @APHL Winter 2019 LAB MATTERS 19