In July 2019, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Supranational Reference Laboratory (SRL) in Uganda, in collaboration with ASLM, conducted a capacity building training for the first SLIPTA auditors in Benin. The eight trained experts will be instrumental in conducting situational gap analysis and benchmark areas of focus for 23 National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratories (NTRLs) in the region through support from the Global Fund. These experts will also conduct periodic assessment of the quality management systems and prioritise the NTRLs for fast track efforts towards international accreditation in West Africa.

The WHO designated the NTRL in Cotonou, Benin as the newest member of the WHO TB Supranational Reference Laboratory (SRL) Network in 2017. This makes the NTRL in Benin the third SRL in the region and the fifth in Africa, joining Algeria, Egypt, Uganda and South Africa. While the Algeria and Egypt SRLs support NTRLs in North Africa and the Uganda SRL supports NTRLs in East, Central and Southern Africa, the Benin SRL will support NTRLs in West Africa.

One of objectives of the Benin SRL is to strengthen the quality management systems of its 23 NTRLs through a stepwise improvement process with the goal of attaining accreditation. To achieve this, the Benin SRL embarked on building the capacity to audit the quality assurance practices of these laboratories.

“This step will tremendously expand the pool of tuberculosis assessors in West Africa and is critical in enrolling more laboratories into the SLIPTA process,” said Prof Moses Joloba, Director of the Uganda SRL. “The appointment of a SLIPTA focal person in Benin which will be followed by certification of tuberculosis laboratories and SLIPTA assessors by ASLM is quite timely for the region,” he added.

Author: Charles Manyonge, Supranational Reference Laboratory, Uganda

Editor: Mrs Bethanie Rammer

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, harmonization of regulations, strengthening of networks, and strengthening advocacy and communications. Laboratory testing is pivotal for disease diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance, outbreak investigation, and initiation and monitoring of treatment, 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 United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the World Bank, the Clinton Foundation, UNAIDS, and others.

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