Strengthening Laboratory Systems in Resource-Limited Settings

Published in: American Journal of Clinical Pathology, v. 134, no. 3, Sep. 2010, p. 374-380

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2009

by Stuart S. Olmsted, Melinda Moore, Robin Meili, Herbert C. Duber, Jeffrey Wasserman, Preethi R. Sama, Benjamin F. Mundell, Lee H. Hilborne

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Considerable resources have been invested in recent years to improve laboratory systems in resource-limited settings. We reviewed published reports, interviewed major donor organizations, and conducted case studies of laboratory systems in 3 countries to assess how countries and donors have worked together to improve laboratory services. While infrastructure and the provision of services have seen improvement, important opportunities remain for further advancement. Implementation of national laboratory plans is inconsistent, human resources are limited, and quality laboratory services rarely extend to lower tier laboratories (eg, health clinics, district hospitals). Coordination within, between, and among governments and donor organizations is also frequently problematic. Laboratory standardization and quality control are improving but remain challenging, making accreditation a difficult goal. Host country governments and their external funding partners should coordinate their efforts effectively around a host country's own national laboratory plan to advance sustainable capacity development throughout a country's laboratory system.

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