Lao PDRFebruary 11, 2021
The National Center for Laboratory Epidemiology (NCLE), the Department of Communicable Diseases Control (DCDC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Lao PDR granted by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) organized a National Laboratories Network meeting from February 9-10, 2021 to share progress, challenges and work plan activities including the assessment findings and recommendations.
The meeting aimed to review and improve communication and coordination between partners and laboratories, address challenges faced by laboratories and share work plan activities. The meeting included an overview of SEALAB activities and the presentation of the results of the National Laboratory System assessment. This assessment provided a SWOT analysis and recommendations which will guide the update of the Ministry of Health National Strategic Plan for Health Laboratories (2013-2020).
The meeting was chaired by Dr. Rattanaxay, Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control and attended by Dr. Bounthiem, Director General of Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital, Dr. Phonepadith, Director of NCLE. Moreover, provincial representatives and other relevant international organizations.
It was recommended to appoint representatives of national laboratories network and committees from central, regional and provincial levels to coordinate and strengthen the systematic network and upgrade the coordination between laboratories and partners. The Lao Association of Medical Laboratory Science (LAMLS) has been set up but is not performing well, therefore it was recommended to organize a meeting on LAMLS to select a head of LAMLS and set up a committee and develop a roadmap.
The SEALAB project aim is to help fill gaps and further strengthen the quality management and the laboratory network coordination both within and beyond the country.
Dr. Phonepadith highlighted the good progress of the laboratory system, comparing the overall scoring results of laboratories assessment from 2011 and 2021, which gave an overall score of 68% in 2021 instead of 26% in 2011. Some critical challenges remain, such as the number of human resources, the quantity and maintenance of laboratory equipment, as well as quality management system, and need to be addressed in the new national strategic plan 2021-2025. In addition, the Director of NCLE raised a concern on the development of priority diseases such as tuerculosis and HIV in the context of donor downsizing; and made clear that GENE Expert machines will be used for COVID-19 & HIV viral load testing.
Dr Rattanaxay reminded the meeting of the critical role of laboratory professionals in disease detection and diagnosis, especially in the COVID-19 situation. He encouraged participants to improve their skills and develop laboratory standards and quality to be aligned with neighboring countries.