Review of SEALAB project in Lao PDR


June 20, 2022
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Review of SEALAB project in Lao PDR

In early June all travel restrictions were lifted and direct flights from Cambodia to Lao PDR resumed. A mission was organized in Vientiane to review the progress of the SEALAB project and to set up a detailed planning of the activities which need to be completed before the end of 2022.

The SEALAB team focused on redefining a strategic approach for building on what has been achieved over the previous months and to reorientate some components to provide sustainable results for the beneficiaries. Capacity building remains the main SEALAB component to be completed in the coming months.

Discussions with the Merieux Foundation team highlighted the need to strengthen the capacity building component. This requires refining some of the activities:

  • Low capacity to understand basic English impairs participation of lab professionals at the provincial level, despite a real motivation. This weakness has been identified by many projects including capacity building activities. The NRL work with professional translators to address this gap, but they noticed that the training courses and mentoring sessions were not fluid enough to allow proper understanding. For this reason, the Merieux Foundation team will organize 6 month intensive English course given daily by a professional teacher assisted by a  SEALAB TOS for technical aspects. It is planned to organize monthly intensive face-to-face one-day sessions to bring together 2 technicians from each provincial lab and a teacher.
  • Modules must be available for other training programs, to be conducted by the Mérieux Foundation or other partners. In Cambodia, the BMLS requested to review all modules in order to officially validate the SEALAB project in-service curriculum. This step is necessary to display the training modules on official websites of the MOH or the University etc., to ensure their visibility and availability. All training modules presented in Lao PDR will be reviewed and endorsed by the NCLE. The Mérieux Foundation team will also identify websites and develop the Moodle platform to host further training materials.
  • The expertise of trainers is crucial for the quality of training courses. For this reason, particular attention must be given to delivering some specific modules. For example, Khamouane Hospital is identified as the best option to train lab staff on cell markers for quantitation of CD4 and HIV. This hospital does not participate in the SEALAB project but will be selected for training on this topic.

Calibration and preventive maintenance is a core and innovative component of the SEALAB capacity building component. Unfortunately it is not possible to easily identify technicians who speak English or French to be trained at the accredited calibration unit at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia. The Mérieux Foundation TOS and French-Lao technicians will participate in the TOT and will be responsible to present training modules on preventive maintenance and calibration to the labs participating in the SEALAB project.

Furthermore, activities correlated to updating/drafting policies and strategies for both human and veterinary sectors have been increased and data management programs enriched with presentation of LabCompanion, an open-source software developed by IQLS to optimize a One Health laboratory network management.

This 3-day mission has initiated a more efficient approach for efficacy and sustainability and will be followed by a monthly mission to support FM team in Laos and re-evaluate the strategy.


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