Guinea Forges Critical Links to Laboratories

The Bottom Line

THE CHALLENGE: Without an effective system to move specimens from community clinics to diagnostic laboratories, patients may not get the right care and outbreaks can spread undetected.

THE SOLUTION: CDC partners provided twelve clinics in Guinea with training and supplies to transport samples to laboratories, improving their ability to care for patients and identify disease outbreaks quickly and accurately.

Laboratories are a critical link between a patient and their diagnosis — when people are ill, laboratories can confirm the reason. When local facilities don’t have the resources to test specimens from patients, they use a specimen referral chain to send samples to laboratories that may be far away, but which have the ability to run the necessary tests.

In Guinea, health facilities in rural areas didn’t have a working specimen referral chain to get samples from community health centers to laboratories; they had limited training and supplies to deliver biological materials safely. This meant that patients in Guinea had to travel to the nearest hospital, sometimes for hours or days, even to get routine examinations. When faced with this obstacle, many people did not seek treatment at all.

Getting the Answers to Disease Outbreaks
Laboratory confirmation of disease is important not just for treating patients, but for monitoring which diseases are present in the community and tracking their spread. Without a good specimen referral chain, the work of those trying to track diseases in communities is made more difficult. To conduct effective disease surveillance, during an outbreak the local health team in Guinea previously had to travel to the patient to personally collect the specimen, then package and ship the specimen to Conakry.

Fortunately, Guinea and its partners were able to improve the specimen referral chain to better serve patients and track diseases. Working closely with Guinea’s Ebola Coordination Cell and the Ministry of Health, International Medical Corps, a CDC-funded partner, provided 12 peripheral facilities with training, materials and equipment to safely collect, store, and transport biological specimens. Rural clinicians can now independently refer specimens to diagnostic laboratories, improving their ability to care for patients and identify disease outbreaks quicker and more accurately.

About This Story
CDC is working with 31 priority countries to develop global health security capabilities, which protect Americans and people around the world from disease threats. This story illustrates Guinea’s commitment to:

National Laboratory System: Establishing a nationwide laboratory system that uses modern diagnostic technology to safely and accurately detect and identify pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, which cause infectious diseases.

health post

A health post in Forécariah, Guinea.

Page last reviewed: March 28, 2018
Content source: Global Health