New Partnership to Build Tuberculosis Diagnostic Capacity for West Africa

In July 2019, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Supranational Reference Laboratory (SRL) in Uganda, in collaboration with ASLM, conducted a capacity building training for the first SLIPTA auditors in Benin. The eight trained experts will be instrumental in conducting situational gap analysis and benchmark areas of focus for 23 National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratories (NTRLs) in the region through support from the Global Fund. These experts will also conduct periodic assessment of the quality management systems and prioritise the NTRLs for fast track efforts towards international accreditation in West Africa.

The WHO designated the NTRL in Cotonou, Benin as the newest member of the WHO TB SRL Network in 2017. This makes the NTRL in Benin the third SRL in the region and the fifth in Africa, joining Algeria, Egypt, Uganda and South Africa. While the Algeria and Egypt SRLs support NTRLs in North Africa and the Uganda SRL supports NTRLs in East, Central and Southern Africa, the Benin SRL will support NTRLs in West Africa.

One of objectives of the Benin SRL is to strengthen the quality management systems of its 23 NTRLs through a stepwise improvement process with the goal of attaining accreditation. To achieve this, the Benin SRL embarked on building the capacity to audit the quality assurance practices of these laboratories.

“This step will tremendously expand the pool of tuberculosis assessors in West Africa and is critical in enrolling more laboratories into the SLIPTA process,” said Prof Moses Joloba, Director of the Uganda SRL. “The appointment of a SLIPTA focal person in Benin which will be followed by certification of tuberculosis laboratories and SLIPTA assessors by ASLM is quite timely for the region,” he added.

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