Representatives from LSTM’s Capacity Research Unit (CRU) have attended the launch meeting for the £750,000“LABSKILLS AFRICA” programme in Nairobi. CRU is working in partnership with the Royal College of Pathologists to deliver a two-year, Department for International Development (DfID) funded programme which aims to build capacity of pathologists and diagnostic laboratories in sub-Saharan Africa.
LABSKILLS AFRICA is a collaboration of 12 partners in the UK and five African countries; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The project was developed as a specific output from a strategic planning meeting in 2011 convened by the College of Pathologists of East, Central and Southern Africa (COPECSA) who will be acting as a pivotal partner for this programme.
The programme will utilise the skills of UK pathologists and biomedical scientists who will volunteer their time to work with laboratory staff, pathologists and biomedical scientists in the five African countries. It is hoped that the programme will help raise the standards and quality of specific laboratory services and tests associated with the diagnosis and management of health conditions related to Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 concerning infections and the health of women and children.
Partners met in Nairobi to introduce their laboratories and the challenges and limitations they are facing in providing accurate diagnostic services. They developed strategies for achieving the four key components of the project; a laboratory leadership and quality management course, a laboratory technical skills improvement course, five laboratory improvement projects in each of the five countries and a laboratory network to learn and share best practice between laboratories.
CRU at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine will be monitoring and evaluating the programme. Our CRU team conducted a participatory session at the meeting to generate outcomes, indicators and methods that were relevant and feasible in the context of laboratory services in Africa.
CRU will use well established tools to track the performance of the programme and ultimately measure the programme’s relevance, impact and sustainability.