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Video: Strengthening Labs for a Healthier & Safer World

Strengthening Labs for a Healthier & Safer World

As a key partner in the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, CDC draws on decades of expertise in public health science and longstanding relationships with Ministries of Health to build high quality national laboratory systems and a skilled workforce critical for HIV prevention, care, and treatment, as well as for other diseases.


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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC, works 24/7 to protect the American people from disease, including those that begin overseas. In the fight over global HIV/AIDS, CDC plays a unique and essential role in the U.S. President’s emergency plan for Aids Relief, or PEPFAR. As the U.S. science-based public health and disease prevention agency, CDC draws on decades of technical expertise in public health science and support for Ministries of Health in over 75 countries. A strong national laboratory system is essential for preventing, diagnosing, and treating HIV/AIDS. Strong laboratories are also important for rapidly detecting and controlling other current emerging global health threats such as tuberculosis, malaria, and influenza.

CDC works side-by-side with Ministries of Health to build high quality national laboratory systems and a qualified, skilled workforce that can support timely and reliable testing. The African Society for Lab Medicine’s tend to benefit CDC’s extraordinary leadership on lab strengthening across the globe, especially at this critical point where the ASLM is just being established has just been established. CDC is a known leader for lab strengthening, not just in the United States but across the world and other countries lookup to CDC as reference lab globally. Laboratory accreditation helps ensure that high quality labs are established and sustained. The number laboratories accredited is a key indicator for measuring progress in strengthening health care systems. To help labs work toward achieving accreditation, CDC conceived of and launched a training and mentoring program in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa and 12 African governments. This program is called Strengthening Laboratory Management Toward Accreditation. The purpose of this program is to help laboratories make immediate, measurable improvement in the tasks required to operate a laboratory effectively, and to deliver reliable results. This was the first program of its kind in Africa. CDC has worked closely with Ministries of Health to implement this quality improvement program since its launch in 2009.

Today, nearly 200 laboratories in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and South East Asia have enrolled in the program, and 80 laboratories have completed the process. When PEPFAR began in 2004, public health laboratory systems in Africa were weak and neglected. This made it seem inconceivable that they would ever be able to provide the level of testing needed to diagnose and treat HIV-positive people across the continent.
Today, thanks to CDC’s contributions through PEPFAR, other international partners, and commitment by local governments, a rapidly growing number African Laboratories can provide essential HIV-related testing. In South Africa for example, a specimen collection or testing facility is now located within one mile of about 80% of the population. Laboratories are also working toward adding a wider range of services for other diseases. These efforts will help strengthen the entire healthcare system and result in healthier, more prosperous communities across Africa and contribute to building a safer and more secure world for everyone.

  • Page last reviewed: July 20, 2012
  • Page last updated: July 20, 2012
  • Content source: Global Health
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