Achieving the third UNAIDS goal to ensure that 90% of individuals on treatment are virally suppressed will require improving efficiencies across the entire viral load testing spectrum from collection of specimens to timely delivery of patient results.
One of the rate limiting steps in the spectrum is the frequent malfunctioning of auxiliary equipment that are essential for the smooth running of a laboratory to ensure reliable and accurate test results. Viral load Laboratories conducting viral load and early infant diagnostic testing sought to establish a strong linkage between well-trained biomedical instrument technicians from the ministries of health and manufacturers to ensuring a well-coordinated program on preventive and curative maintenance.
As part of this effort, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in partnership with Biologics Solutions Ltd, Kenya, organized the first, Strengthening Efficiencies for HIV Viral Load Testing, Equipment Maintenance workshop, from September 5-9, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The workshop was hosted by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute and is the first in a series of workshops that provided an opportunity for two representatives each from viral load testing laboratories from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, and Cameroon, to be trained on the maintenance and calibration services of auxiliary laboratory testing equipment which are critical to support viral load scale-up.
The equipment maintenance workshops utilizes a SLMTA-like approach and will include two workshops. The first 1 week workshop was just completed in Addis Ababa. After completion of the first workshop, trainees were provided with a tool kit, required to maintain equipment, as a donation to the Ministry of Health in their respective countries. The trainees will receive follow-up mentoring by ASLM and Biologics and are expected to use the tools to complete follow-up hands-on training projects prior to attending the second workshop in approximately 3 months.
In the second workshop to be hosted again by EPHI, Addis Ababa, the same cohort of biomedical engineers that were trained at the first workshop will be re-convened to complete their training and become certified.