Information on the geolocation of laboratory capacity across Africa is generally fragmented and incomplete. This limits national, regional and global efforts to strengthen national laboratory networks and systems toward optimal coverage and preparedness for outbreak response.
Information on laboratory location, licensing, registration, test menu, equipment, staffing, implementation of quality management systems, etc… is critical for the smart pooling of resources, as well as the effective management and coordination of the clinical and public health functions of national tiered laboratory networks. Additionally, information on national public health laboratories at the regional level, can contribute to the establishment of cross-border sample referral networks.
Through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) has established the Laboratory Mapping Program (LabMaP) a platform for the rapid collection, storage and analysis of geolocation information on laboratory capacity. ASLM partners with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) through Africa CDC’s Regional Collaborating Centres, Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD) and Fondation Mérieux and has assisted 13 countries in West, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa to collect and share data on their laboratory capacity.
The strategy proposed by ASLM and its partners fosters country ownership and is based on a stepwise approach starting from mapping reference laboratories, followed by an expansion to entire tiered networks. During the mapping, approximately 350 different variables on laboratory capacity are collected across essential diseases and critical areas of laboratory systems.
Please visit ASLM LabMaP for an overview of the facilities mapped so far. Only general information is publicly available; complete datasets are only accessible to individual countries, ASLM and Africa CDC.