Strengthening the quality of malaria diagnosis in DRC

LSTM has been strengthening malaria diagnostic capacity in five provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2012 as part of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) Expansion Program, led by Population Services International (PSI). 

Over the last three years the programme has focused on improving technical skills for malaria diagnosis amongst health workers using rapid diagnostic tests and microscopy. The programme has also supported the development of national guidelines to assure the quality of malaria diagnostic testing. These guidelines were finalised in May 2015 and the programme will support their implementation through a series of workshops facilitated by staff from LSTM experienced in quality assurance. 

The first of these workshops took place in June 2015 and involved staff from key national institutions, such as the national reference laboratory and malaria control program, as well as implementers from the provinces. The workshop introduced participants to the newly released national quality assurance guidelines and also equipped participants with a basic understanding of the main concepts of laboratory quality assurance. It facilitated the development of six month operational plans by the teams from each province to guide the development of quality assurance systems for malaria diagnosis. 

The next workshop will determine how much progress participants have made against the operational plans and the challenges they have faced. The workshop will create an opportunity for each province to share experiences in starting QA implementation and promote collective problem solving. The operational plans will then be reprogramed based on these experiences for the next year.