At a recent meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) launched a new initiative called the Laboratory Systems Strengthening Community of Practice (LabCoP). LabCoP is a learning network of multidisciplinary country teams working together to create knowledge and share information, experiences and best practices. It is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and supported by ICAP at Columbia University (https://icap.columbia.edu) and the Extension for Community Health Outcomes (Project ECHO™) at the University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center (https://echo.unm.edu).
Dr. Peter Ehrenkranz of the Gates Foundation described LabCoP’s purpose, goals and future plans: ‘Starting with existing knowledge and an emphasis on South to South collaboration, LabCoP seeks to define, document, and actively share both known and “to-be-created” best practices of viral load scale up and lab systems strengthening amongst Ministries of Health and their stakeholders. LabCoP will initially focus on supporting country teams to accelerate the scale-up of high-quality routine HIV viral load monitoring,’ he said. ‘If successful, there will be an opportunity to apply similar models to other important laboratory system components and functions at a later time.’
According to Dr. Pascale Ondoa, ASLM’s Director of Science and New Initiative, ‘LabCoP envisions to bring countries together to share best laboratory practices and success stories, and promotes collaborative problem solving for improved laboratory system functions.’ LabCOP will leverage distance technology to convene online videoconferences, share resources and foster ongoing exchange amongst practitioners. Details about LabCoP, how it will work, how countries can join and other relevant information can be accessed through this link
‘ICAP is pleased to be supporting this important initiative,’ noted Dr. Miriam Rabkin, ICAP’s Director for Health Systems Strategies. ‘The fact that LabCoP will engage not only laboratorians but clinicians, clients and civil society, and program managers makes it uniquely positioned to strengthen laboratory systems and services in a way that will achieve the ultimate goals of stronger health systems and better health outcomes.’
LabCoP was launched during a regional workshop on HIV viral load scale up held 23-25 October 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 137 delegates from the Ministries of Health in Africa, PEPFAR, the CDC, WHO, Africa CDC, Global Fund, implementing partners (such as ICAP), and several professional groups including laboratorians, clinicians, researchers, and community activists from 26 countries participated in the launch, contributing insights about their priorities and recommendations for network design.
For more information, please visit:
- ASLM website: http://www.aslm.org/
- LabCoP webpage: http://www.aslm.org/what-we-do/aslms-laboratory-systems-strengthening-community-practice-labcop/
November 15, 2017.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.