Laboratories play a central role in TB control, surveillance, diagnosis, and care. Strong laboratory services allow providers to detect TB, monitor treatment, and document results. Strong laboratory services also allow technicians to detect different types of the disease, including pulmonary TB, extra-pulmonary TB, multidrug resistant TB, and extensively drug resistant TB. Research to enhance treatment also depends on the precision of laboratory data.
Despite the crucial role of laboratory services in TB control, millions of people are unable to access reliable laboratory services due to scarcity of trained staff, insufficient supplies, inaccurate technical procedures, and inadequate quality assurance protocols. MSH works with partners to support national TB policy design and improve laboratory management. We also collaborate with ministries of health and national public health programs to strengthen TB control plans, policies, and standards. Our work includes:
- In Uganda, through the TRACK TB project, MSH offers support to the National TB Reference Laboratory, providing oversight of the laboratory network, installation of GeneXpert machines, and distribution of microscopes. TRACK TB also provides training, supervision, and facilitation of external quality assurance at 100 laboratories.
- In Ethiopia, through the HEAL TB project, MSH ensured external laboratory quality assurance service at 1,264 health facilities, improved the quality of diagnosis at 1,550 health facilities, and supported four regional labs on sputum culture and drug susceptibility testing.
- In Swaziland, the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services ( SIAPS) program supported forecasting of needed quantitites of HIV rapid test kids (RTKs) and pediatric antiretrovirals (ARVs). A funding gap analysis supported an emergency request for a 10-month supply of HIV RTKs. SIAPS also supported the Philippines in producing a laboratory network monitoring guide, a standardized and comprehensive tool for regional and provincial medical technologists.