Assessment of three medical and research laboratories using WHO AFRO_SLIPTA Quality Standards in Southwestern Uganda: a long way to go
Introduction: While the laboratory represents more than 70% of clinical diagnosis and patient management, access to reliable and quality laboratory diagnostics in sub-Saharan Africa remains a challenge. To gain knowledge and suggest evidence based interventions towards laboratory improvement in Southwestern Uganda, we assessed the baseline laboratory quality standards in three medical and research laboratories in Southwestern Uganda. Methods: We conducted a cross sectional survey from October, 2013 to April, 2014. Selected laboratories, including one private research, one private for profit and one public laboratory, were assessed using the WHO AFRO_SLIPTA checklist and baseline scores were determined. Results: The three laboratories assessed met basic facility requirements, had trained personnel, and safety measures in place. Sample reception was properly designed and executed with a well designated chain of custody. All laboratories had sufficient equipment for the nature of work they were involved in. However, we found that standard operating procedures were incomplete in all three laboratories, lack of quality audit schemes by two laboratories and only one laboratory enrolled into external quality assurance schemes. The SLIPTA scores were one star for the research laboratory and no star for both the public and private-for-profit laboratories. Conclusion: While most of the laboratory systems were in place, the low scores obtained by the assessed laboratories reflect the need for improvement to reach standards of quality assured diagnostics in the region. Therefore, routine mentorship and regional supportive supervision are necessary to increase the quality of laboratory services.