ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES FOR MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION OF BLOOD SMEARS FOR MALARIA IN A RURAL HIGH TRANSMISSION SETTING IN UGANDA: FINDINGS FROM BASELINE SURVEY
World Health Organization recommends malaria parasitological confirmation of all suspected cases before treatment. Microscopy remains the gold standard method for malaria diagnosis however its quality is frequently inadequate. In this project we assessed health facility laboratories on their capacity to implement malaria parasite-based diagnosis policy. Data from this baseline could inform appropriate future capacity development interventions designed to improve malaria blood smear microscopy in this region. We conducted a baseline assessment of 50 health laboratories in five districts of Mid-western region on their capacity to perform malaria diagnosis. Selected Laboratories were assessed using a standard checklist tool to capture all the data. Descriptive analysis was done using SPSS version 11 to establish status of the laboratories. Overall, 86% of targeted laboratories were assessed.77% were run by laboratory assistants. 77% had binocular microscopes but only 87.9% were functional. 17% of staff received refresher training, 20.5% participated in malaria External Quality Assurance while 47% of received supervision for malaria. 28% had personal protective gear while 11.6% had post exposure prophylaxis kits for HIV/AIDS. Over 57% of laboratories experienced stock out of malaria supplies. 97% of the laboratories had suboptimal staffing levels. Malaria laboratory diagnosis in this region as weak and suboptimal to implement the malaria parasite-based diagnosis policy. Rapid Diagnostic Tests that do not require laboratory setting and highly trained technicians could be considered for use in this rural setting.
Keywords: Baseline Assessment, Quality Assurance, Malaria, Microscopy
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