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Assessment of regional EQA providers in microbiology

As part of a Fleming Fund regional grant to strengthen the detection and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Africa, Oneworld Accuracy participated in an assessment of potential regional bacteriology EQA providers. The assessment team was composed of representatives from National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) and Oneworld Accuracy.

The goal of the assessment was to visit laboratories that may be able to act as a regional EQA provider and evaluate their capacity to successfully complete this project.

The Fleming Fund grant was awarded to ASLM to improve quality assurance of laboratory testing in Africa. Quality assurance commonly acknowledges best practice and underpins confidence in the results of a laboratory. AMR surveillance systems must have EQA program for bacteria identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing, which tests how well antibiotic drugs are working. However, EQA is expensive and the expertise required is not regularly accessible to many laboratories in low- and middle-income countries. Under this project, ASLM is tasked with mapping available EQA services and establishing and strengthening EQA Reference Centers across the region.

Laboratories capacities were evaluated in term of quality management, staff, equipment, informatics system and previous experience as an EQA provider. The laboratories visited were the Amref central laboratory, HuQAS and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi, Institut Pasteur Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan, Institut Pasteur Sénégal, Institut de Recherche en Santé de Surveillance Épidémiologique et de Formation (IRESSEF) and Laboratoire National d’Élevage et de Recherches Vétérinaires (LNERV) in Dakar.

Following the assessment visit, ASLM and Africa CDC convened a two-day regional workshop on 10-11 February in Johannesburg, South Africa. Representatives from Fleming priority countries, as well as Cameroon and Gabon, and prospective new external quality assessment (EQA) providers discussed about the overall aim of the project and elicit engagement from countries and stakeholders.

More specifically, the discussion focused on understanding country needs, best practices and challenges in terms of EQA for AMR; discuss the significance and implications of the current EQA program availability, coverage, uptake and sustainability at continental level; and identify areas of synergy and collaboration with existing initiatives on the continent.

The outcomes of the meeting were consolidated and fed into the design of a full grant proposal to enable the implementation of the regional AMR EQA program as part of the Fleming Fund regional grant between 2020 and 2021.

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