The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) is leading a consortium for the Fleming Fund regional grant on strengthening External Quality Assessment (EQA) for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) testing in Africa. The consortium consists of technical partners, including Public Health England, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa, and the Africa Centers for Disease Control (Africa CDC), with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) together forming the advisory committee. Fleming Fund is a UK Aid programme that seeks to help low- and middle-income countries to improve AMR surveillance.

On 10 and 11 February ASLM, in collaboration with Africa CDC, organized a regional stakeholders meeting on EQA for AMR testing. During the regional meeting, Tjeerd Datema presented results of a desk study, conducted by DATOS, which provided insight in:

  • Current international/regional EQA programmes for AMR
  • Participation and performance of African laboratories (both human and animal health and environment) in EQA for AMR
  • Barriers and enabling factors in organizing EQA schemes
  • Barriers and enabling factors in participating in EQA schemes
  • Major cost items of organizing EQA schemes
  • Creating a financially sustainable model for organizing EQA at international level
Tjeerd presenting findings of the literature study

During the meeting, valuable input was provided by stakeholders and partners on priorities for strengthening EQA for AMR testing in the region. The overall aim was to identify and prioritize the major activities that can be undertaken to strengthen EQA for AMR testing on the African continent, which will be addressed in the second phase of the regional grant for Africa of the Fleming Fund. It became very clear that implementation of laboratory quality management system requirements is a prerequisite for successful scale-up and effectiveness of EQA programs.