Laboratory Strengthening

Laboratory Strengthening

Strong laboratory systems are essential to countries’ efforts to achieving the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, and crucial to the early detection and response to emerging public health threats. Strong laboratory systems and quality management systems are the keys to enabling the quick turnaround of high-quality laboratory test results, which impacts positive clinical care and health outcomes for clinicians and patients.

ICAP’s Approach to Strengthening Laboratories

ICAP provides technical assistance to ministries of health, national laboratories, and other partners to enhance institutional and human capacity across national laboratory networks, with the goal of increasing access to high-quality diagnostics and clinical monitoring at all levels of the health system. ICAP’s approach is guided by the laboratory network model, which provides access to a range of lab services in close proximity to facilities that provide clinical services.

ICAP’s technical approach to strengthening laboratories include:

  • Strengthening lab infrastructure and systems: ICAP partners with ministries of health to standardize laboratory infrastructure, improve laboratory supply chain management, networking, transportation, referral systems, lab-quality management, and information systems.
  • Strengthening lab policies: ICAP provides technical assistance to ministries of health for the development, revision, and implementation of laboratory policies, strategic plans, guidelines, and operational manuals, as well as providing technical assistance for the development of specifications for the procurement of laboratory equipment.
  • Building capacity of laboratory staff: ICAP provides pre-service, in-service, and continuing professional development training to laboratory staff to ensure high-quality reliable sample collection and transport.

ICAP, in collaboration with ministries of health, national laboratories, other stakeholders, and funders, has provided technical assistance to more than 2,100 laboratories around the world.

ICAP’s Work to Strengthen Laboratories

  • The Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) Project: The PHIA Project consists of cross-sectional, HIV-focused household surveys that measure the current status and effectiveness of national programs in reaching HIV epidemic control. Each survey offers participants household-based HIV counseling and testing conducted by trained survey staff, with immediate return of HIV test results. The surveys also ask questions about access to preventive care and treatment services for adults and children.
  • Quality Management Systems (QMS): ICAP has provided technical assistance to several countries on the national planning and rollout of quality laboratory-based data management systems and the scale-up of laboratory accreditation programs.
  • Strategic Planning and National Laboratory Policy: In Ethiopia and Rwanda, ICAP supported the development of a national laboratory policy and strategic plan, as well as external quality assurance guidelines for HIV and TB diagnosis.
  • Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS): ICAP has supported the implementation and rollout of laboratory information management systems in several countries to improve the turnaround time of test results and manage laboratory data.
  • Clinical Laboratory Testing and Support Systems: ICAP has pioneered reliable referral laboratory testing services, supported laboratory renovations; equipment procurement, installation, calibration, and maintenance; and the provision of laboratory supplies.
  • Tracking with Recency Assays to Control the Epidemic (TRACE): ICAP has supported ministries of health in the planning, rollout, and expansion of rapid recency testing, a new rapid HIV test that can distinguish a recent HIV-1 infection (acquired within the last 12 months) to improve health interventions for people living with HIV.
  • COVID-19: ICAP has rapidly responded to the needs of countries to support high-quality SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic and serological testing. ICAP is providing technical assistance to national reference laboratories, regional and district laboratories in sample collection and testing; quality assurance and quality control procedures; developing and implementing standard operating procedures; procurement of equipment, test kits, laboratory consumables, and other reagents; and data analytics and visualization

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