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DATOS blog

Creating laboratory leaders in Pakistan

Latest Posted on Sep 17, 2019 09:23:47

Management and leadership skills are not taught when one studies laboratory sciences. Still, many laboratory scientists or technologists eventually end up as a laboratory manager. Over the years we have noticed that countries recognize the need for formal laboratory management training. WHO and its partners are now developing a formal Global Laboratory Leadership Programme (GLLP), which will ultimately consist of 9 modules and will be aimed at laboratory professionals under the One Health concept.

DATOS was asked by WHO EMRO to coordinate the first official in-country evaluation of materials that were developed for the modules Leadership and Communication. From 2 to 6 September Linda Oskam and Kim Lewis taught the first 1-week, face-to-face training to 7 mid-career laboratory professionals in Islamabad, Pakistan. These included representatives from both the human health and the veterinary health laboratories.

The training was very interactive, which was highly appreciated by the participants. They are currently working on their homework assignment under the guidance of national mentors. In 2 weeks’ time we will be back for the next instalment of this training.

Role-play of a visit to the secretary of health

Capacity building in the Trails of Excellence in Southern Africa network

Latest Posted on Aug 01, 2019 13:53:45

In the months of June and July the focus of DATOS’ activities broadened to strengthening research laboratories by assisting the Trails of Excellence in Southern Africa network, shortly TESA network.

The TESA network was launched in 2009 during the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) phase 1. The objective of this network is to strengthen clinical research capacities in Southern Africa as well as increase North-South and South-South networks. Currently, TESA incorporates 13 institutions in eight Southern African and four European countries. The activities of the TESA network currently focus mostly on capacity building and strengthening less established institutions for the identification, treatment and prevention of poverty-related infectious diseases in the Southern Region of Africa.

DATOS was asked to assist with the establishment of reference laboratories within this network for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. In June we visited:

– The laboratory of the Botswana Harvard Partnership (BHP) which is envisaged to become TESA HIV reference laboratory

– The laboratory of the Centro de Investigação em Saúde de Manhiça (CISM) which is envisaged to become the TESA malaria reference laboratory.

We conducted an assessment at both laboratories to investigate their structure, capacity, quality management system, and other strengths and weaknesses.

During a joint workshop directly following the laboratory visits, the teams of both institutes and the experts of DATOS formulated Terms of Reference (ToR) for the TESA reference laboratories and, based on that, developed an action plan for both laboratories to work towards implementing the ToR.

The workshop team

To further establish the TESA TB Reference Laboratory, Tjeerd Datema visited TB laboratories at both the Stellenbosch University and University of Cape Town in South Africa to determine which would be most suited as TESA TB reference laboratory and how both laboratories can collaborate.

The next steps will focus on making sure that all TESA reference laboratories implement the ToR formulated in June to further build capacity of the TESA network.

April – May: Broad laboratory system review in Malawi

Latest Posted on May 21, 2019 15:09:22

In April and May, DATOS, in collaboration with KIT, has conducted a broad laboratory system assessment in Malawi for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We looked from different angles at the laboratory system to do an in-depth analysis of the structure and functioning of the system and laboratory facilities throughout the country. Our team consisted of:

– A laboratory systems specialist, assessing the organization, regulation and coordination of the laboratory system.

– A medical laboratory specialist, assessing laboratory facilities (at public, private, NGO and mission hospitals) throughout the country.

– A geographical information specialist, analyzing the distribution of laboratory testing capacity throughout the country

– A procurement and supply chain specialist: assessing the procurement and supply system for laboratories

– A public health specialist, investigating the laboratory-clinical interface.

This extensive assessment led to major and minor recommendations to guide future laboratory strengthening activities in the country.

Linda Oskam/DATOS at ASLM2018 in Abuja, Nigeria

Latest Posted on Feb 06, 2019 13:24:04

In December 2018, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine organized its biannual conference in Abuja, Nigeria. I was present to give three presentations:

* Introduction of the Fleming Fund (on behalf of Mott Macdonald)
* Policy and planning for sustainable Public Health networks
* Developing competencies for different levels of laboratory workers

I also chaired a session on Biosafety and Biosecurity together with Dr. Abdoulaye Nikiema and the session on human resource development.

In between sessions, I met with many alumni and colleagues to discuss the past, the present and the future.

Developing a national lab policy in cold Mongolia

Latest Posted on Jan 28, 2019 15:18:07

In November/December 2018, Linda facilitated the first of a series of workshops for the National Laboratory Working Group of Mongolia. During these workshops, laboratory experts will develop a draft National Laboratory Policy which will be submitted (and hopefully endorsed) by the Government of Mongolia. Participants included representatives of the government, laboratory managers and experts from the public and the private sector, and educators. The workshop was organized under the guidance of WHO and the official opening was performed by Her
Excellency Dr. Byambasuren Lamjav, Deputy Minister of Health.

The first workshop took place in Red Rock resort, about 50 km outside Ulaan Baatar. This beautiful but very cold environment was very conducive for hard work from the early morning well into the evening, and relaxation through hiking before and karaoke after the work.
The National Laboratory Working Group before the ger rooms

DATOS continues to mentor two laboratories in Myanmar

Latest Posted on Jan 19, 2019 06:39:17

This month DATOS provides continued mentoring support to the National TB Reference Laboratory and the NTP Central Mandalay Branch Laboratory in Myanmar. This is part of the Challenge TB project funded by USAID. Both laboratories are implementing a quality management system based on ISO 15189.

Multiple year mentoring project

In 2016 DATOS provided training on laboratory biorisk management and laboratory quality management, followed by a thorough situational analysis at both laboratories. Since February 2017 the laboratories have been implementing a laboratory quality management system (LQMS) using the LQSI tool ( with mentoring support of FHI360 and DATOS. Over the past two years the laboratories have made significant progress with the LQMS implementation.

Continuous improvement

During this visit DATOS focused on mentoring on document control and quality indicators. The laboratories have now implemented a complete document control system and have identified and started monitoring quaity indicators, which will enable the laboratories to identify opportunities to continuously improve their performance.

SLIPTA guideline workshop in Brazzaville

Latest Posted on Oct 18, 2018 16:18:14

From 16 to 18 October 2018 Linda Oskam participated in a workshop organized
by the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Congo Brazzaville. During this
workshop, 13 experts discussed the (Stepwise Laboratory Quality Improvement
Process Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA) program and revised the current

The SLIPTA program aims to assist laboratories in the African
Region (and at a later stage possibly beyond) to implement a quality management
system compliant with ISO15189. The SLIPTA checklist is used by certified
SLIPTA auditors to assess the status of the quality management system.

Continued support to Pakistan with the development of National Laboratory Quality Standards

Latest Posted on Oct 18, 2018 07:35:29

Earlier this year we reported about our assistance to the National Laboratory Working Group of Pakistan to develop National Laboratory Quality Standards. This week another workshop is organized with the National Laboratory Working Group (NLWG) of Pakistan to take the next steps towards finalization of these standards.

Pakistan is a country with numerous clinical laboratories, of which more than 70% are part of the private sector. Although several provinces are planning to implement a licensing system, the quality of services provided by most laboratories is unknown.

Through development of National Laboratory Quality Standards, the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO-EMRO) and the WHO Country Office of Pakistan aim to strengthen laboratories and the laboratory system of Pakistan.

To optimally meet the needs of the laboratories in Pakistan, the National Laboratory Quality Standard of Pakistan will be tiered, allowing for a phased approach to laboratory quality strengthening.

DATOS has also assisted Pakistan through WHO-EMRO with developing a National Laboratory Policy and Strategic Plan, thus aiming at overall laboratory system improvement.

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