ASLM Collaborations with WAHO to Improve Regional Network of Reference Laboratories


The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) has been collaborating with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to improve medical laboratory systems and networks in member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It is in this context that ASLM, alongside other partners of the WAHO Technical Working Group (TWG), including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC), and Fondation Mérieux, participated in the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Regional Network of Reference Laboratories of ECOWAS Member Countries 28-30 March 2022. The WAHO TWG consists of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) national focal points, regional AMR experts, and technical partners. The meeting had 91 attendees, including representatives from ministries of health and regional reference laboratories, stakeholders, and implementing partners.

The main goal of the 2nd Annual Meeting of the ECOWAS Regional Network of Reference Laboratories was to review the advancements made in strengthening AMR and arbovirus surveillance in ECOWAS countries, biological risk management, and quality management system (QMS) implementation at the regional reference laboratories.

Participants during the discussion
Participants during the discussion

ASLM is WAHO’s technical partner for QMS implementation and was represented by its two QMS experts: Dr Samba Diallo and Mr Teferi Mekonen. They presented the progress made on QMS implementation and the Stepwise Laboratory Improvement Process Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA) auditing and clarified the accreditation process and requirements for ISO 15189: 2012. 

Dr Samaba Diallo (L) and Mr Teferi Mekonen (R)
Dr Samba Diallo (L) and Mr Teferi Mekonen (R)

Since 2018, ASLM has supported the acceleration of QMS implementation in regional reference laboratories prerequired for ISO 15189: 2012 accreditation. ASLM  has trained 27 personnel as SLIPTA Auditors, 24 laboratory personnel on Mentorship & Coaching for QMS implementation, and 21 trainers on Internal Auditing of QMS based on ISO 15189:2012. ASLM has certified nine SLIPTA auditors and SLIPTA-audited ten ECOWAS regional reference laboratories. As part of its mentoring and continuous supervision, ASLM has been providing remote technical assistance to laboratories and to WAHO mentors. ASLM is grateful for the opportunity to improve the quality of African medical laboratories in support of robust disease surveillance system, and in collaboration with WAHO and other partners in the West African region.

Author: Teferi Mekonen and Dr Samba Diallo

Editor: Mrs Bethanie Rammer and Nwoko El-shama

About ASLM

Established in 2011, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) is a pan-African professional body focused on improving healthcare by strengthening all aspects of laboratories including workforce strengthening, quality improvement and accreditation, regulation(s) harmonization, networks strengthening, and advocacy and communication strengthening. Laboratory testing is pivotal for disease diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance, outbreak investigation, and treatment initiation and monitoring, as well as research and development. ASLM addresses these challenges by working collaboratively with governments; national, regional and international organizations; implementing partners; the private sector; and other agencies to achieve its strategic vision goals. ASLM is endorsed by the African Union with support from the World Health Organization, Africa CDC, the US CDC, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the World Bank, the Clinton Foundation, UNAIDS, and others.