Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon Undergo Self-assessment
From 20-23 June 2022, the medical laboratory systems self-assessment workshop was held in the conference room of Hotel Limaniya Golf in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The participating laboratories self-assessed the scale-up of the HIV viral load test. In attendance were the LabCoP management team, the main directorates in charge of medical biology laboratories (DGS; DAP; LNSP; IPCI; AIRP; NPSP; PNLS; PNLT; PNLP); and partners that support the laboratory system (the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), the US CDC Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)).
The workshop’s objective was to assess the national laboratory systems that support the voluntary counselling and testing (VLT)-HIV cascade to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the overall laboratory system in Côte d’Ivoire.
During the visit, the LabCop team presented the purpose and objectives of the LabCoP project to the Ivorian Director General of Health (DGS). They also requested his support in integrating the country into the LabCoP. The team also visited the National Public Health Laboratory (LNSP) to understand its role within the laboratory network.
The Ivorian country team identified critical challenges in their HIV test cascade, including insufficiency of the sample transport system, frequent shortage of testing commodities, and the long turnaround time for results. However, the strengths identified included having a data information circuit, organisations that support people living with HIV, and a national differentiated care strategy. These best practices could be enhanced and shared during the upcoming Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) sessions.
The LabCoP will support the country team in developing and validating a fundable work plan to scale-up viral load tests based on the assessment results. Then, the country team will use the validated work plan to advocate for partners and stakeholders.
Like the Côte d’Ivoire medical laboratory systems self-assessment workshop, the Gabon LabCoP country team assessed the Gabon medical laboratories systems and networks and scale-up of viral load tests from 23-25 August 2022.
This self-assessment workshop is the second step in implementing LabCoP in Gabon. The first step was establishing a national multidisciplinary team after gaining acceptance from the Gabon ministry of health that will implement LabCoP activities.
The Director General of Health, the National Public Health Laboratory (LNSP), the University Hospital of Libreville, the Lambaréné Medical Research Centre (CERMEL), the PNLT, the HIV/AIDS Program, the Central Analysis Laboratory, the BIFOUN Medical Health Centre, the Directorate General of the Military Health Service, and the technical and financial partners who support the laboratory system, the World Health Organization, the Gabonese Red Cross and the LabCoP management team attended the three-day workshop.
The country team used the ASLM HIV viral load testing cascade self-assessment scorecard and the World Health Organisation’s early infant diagnosis (WHO VL/EID) tool to identify five critical challenges to the scale-up of T/HIV in
Gabon. The challenges included: establishing a sample collection and transport system; developing a national laboratory input supply strategy; establishing a national quality control system; elaborating the national laboratories policy; and organising the data management system of the network of public and private VL laboratories.
The LabCoP will support the country team in developing a work plan based on the identified challenges. Then, the country team will implement the work plan to improve the function and quality of care provided by the laboratory systems while building on identified strengths, including increasing demand for result use and enrolling in external quality assessment. Hopefully, improvements will be shared during the upcoming LabCoP ECHO sessions.