Expert Experience

ASLM recently sat down with Innocent Twebaze, Laboratory Systems Officer, Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University, and member of Uganda’s LabCoP Team, to talk about LabCoP’s WhatsApp group, the south-south information sharing forum for LabCoP’s participating country teams. Mr Twebaze shared some of his experiences and successes with using the platform to benefit his organisation.

ASLM: LabCoP uses the WhatsApp platform to keep country teams connected in between meetings, and you are one of the most prolific participants. What kinds of resources and information are shared, and which have you found most useful?

Mr Twebaze: Information shared across the WhatsApp platform include scientific publications highlighting new diagnostic research, technological advances and innovations, as well as links to past ECHO session recordings, resources, training and opportunities. The experiences shared often highlight best practices that can be adopted for laboratory systems strengthening and resource optimisation. The ECHO sessions have been carefully designed to address specific challenges in laboratory operations and have been most useful. 

ASLM: How do you use the WhatsApp group to benefit or enhance your job at your organisation?

Mr Twebaze: I support more than 60 laboratories and hubs, providing technical assistance to strengthen laboratory quality management systems, support SLMTA implementation, and support several other laboratory functions. In my role, I find most things to be dynamic, requiring frequent learning, updating and experience sharing; resources for these are at my disposal in the LabCoP WhatsApp platform. I use the content accessed there, alongside other materials, to prepare continuous medical education sessions on waste management, infection prevention and control, laboratory quality management systems and SLMTA, etc., which I deliver during on-site visits to colleagues, laboratory staff, and others involved in any of the analytical stages (pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical) at supported health facilities. 

ASLM: Why do you think it is important to stay connected to the other LabCoP country teams on WhatsApp?

Mr Twebaze: WhatsApp is a secure platform for networking and collaboration, and this connection with other LabCoP country teams is invaluable. It promotes a balanced sharing of information and experiences, which is important for research, innovation and technological advancement. It also facilitates timely peer, professional, and technical support, even when people are in transit or at leisure.

ASLM: How does learning about other countries’ best practices on WhatsApp help you?

Mr Twebaze: Learning about other countries’ best practices provides information on effective, tested, and minimal-effort (no cost and restriction) approaches to various challenging situations for process and resource optimisation. I draw deep inspiration from what others do well, whatever their style or approach, because I believe that progress is very much about continuous quality improvement.

ASLM: How can country teams join you in the conversation happening on WhatsApp?

Mr Twebaze: We’re always looking for more members to join and share information, so contact your in-country LabCoP coordinator for support. They have administrator rights to the WhatsApp platform and will admit new interested and eligible members.