African Public Health Laboratories Network (APHLN)
Promoting Collaboration and Coordination to Address Healthcare Needs in Africa
Public health laboratories are essential to managing major public health threats, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and emerging threats like Ebola. They are also critical components of national (and regional) healthcare delivery systems and play a key role in routine and referral diagnostic (testing) services; disease surveillance; outbreak investigation and response; training; quality assurance programmes; regulation; and research.
What is the APHLN?
APHLN is a landmark, pan-African network of national public health laboratories promoting collaboration and coordination to address healthcare priorities in Africa. Through an established communication network, the network:
- Facilitates information sharing for strengthened global health security, disease surveillance, and outbreak response
- Establishes standardised protocols and policies
- Provides diagnostic testing services for rare or high risk pathogens
- Improves health workforce capacity through regional trainings and dissemination of best practices
- Harmonises regulations to facilitate the adoption and evaluation of new technologies
- Promotes South-South collaborations, capacity building, and accreditation efforts
The foundation of APHLN is the ASLM Collaborating Centres network. The ASLM Collaborating Centres are six African laboratories that have national and international reputations in laboratory medicine, research, policy-making, technology assessment, and implementation and training.
ASLM offers APHLN members opportunities to exchange information both via its web portal and APHLN Listserv, as well as through national and international meetings (such as the ASLM2012, ASLM2013 and ASLM2014 conferences). This helps ensure laboratories share lessons learned from their various front-line experiences with other network members.
Next steps for APHLN in 2015
APHLN launched initial activities over the course of 2014, which culminated in a special seminar session at ASLM2014. Outcomes of the sessions called for future meetings of the network to discuss: governance and further sensitisation of the integrated regional activities.
Training sessions focused on Ebola outbreak readiness and response are planned for 2015. 10 priority countries will undergo an outbreak readiness assessment utilising a standardised, validated checklist aligned with World Health Organization International Health Regulations (WHO IHR).
With international and local partners, ASLM experts will assess strengths and gaps in local laboratory readiness in order to develop a comprehensive workplan to address any gaps and provide targeted technical assistance on Ebola laboratory capacity.