Enhancing Laboratory services for Regional Hospitals
The Private Public Partnership initiatives have expanded extraordinarily within Tanzania especially within the Health sector and an example is the PPP agreement between the Abbott Fund and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, which aims to improve Laboratory services within the country’s regional hospitals. The regional hospitals that are categorized as Referral hospitals are meant to provide quality diagnostic services to Tanzanians, hence the physical infrastructure and equipment of 23 regional hospital laboratories were improved through the support of Abbott Fund.
Laboratory technologist working at Tanga Regional Hospital to serve the community
The Mkapa Foundation comes in to supplement these national efforts, by ensuring availability of laboratory professionals through the Mkapa Fellows Programme and this is attained through recruitment and deployment of qualified sixty (60) laboratory technologists who are placed in 10 regional hospitals of Mara, Kagera, Shinyanga, Singida, Kigoma, Tabora, Rukwa, Coast, Lindi and Mtwara.
Each Regional Hospital received 6 laboratory technologists as Fellows, and work on 12 months contract with the Foundation, prior to being streamlined into the government employment systems for continuity of services. The Fellows recruitment was hundred percent attained by BMAF in 2011 and they work under the supervision of the Regional Medical Officer, as defined in our signed tripartite agreement between BMAF, Regional authorities and the Fellow.
“ Prior to their arrival our modern constructed laboratory had only lab support staff and no lab technologist. So we are indeed delighted to have 6 full time qualified laboratory technologists that make use of the available equipments hence giving timely and quality lab results” Dr.John Gurisha – former Regional Medical Officer, Mtwara Region.
Currently there are 48 laboratory technologists out of 60 deployed which is eighty percent retention. They will be streamlined into government employment for the financial year 2012/2013.
Asia Sonda- Laboratory Technologist, Singida Regional Hospital
“When I came here there were only 2 laboratory technologists who were doing all the tests for
almost 300 clients, they were thus overwhelmed. Therefore being here has brought some relief
to patients and also co-workers..”
Due to promising project results, the agreement between BMAF and Abbott Fund was extended from January to December 2013. The extended agreement has enabled recruitment and deployment of twenty three data clerks to serve 23 regional referral hospitals across the country to address the challenge of low quality of data. Previously data obtained in the laboratories were not kept well and not reliable, thus the need for data clerks was identified and they were recruited to streamline the process of system of data collection, storage, and retrieval to inform the decision makers on prevailing situation for planning purposes.
Agatha,Data Clerk of Ligula Regional Hospital-Mtwara, at work
The technologists and data clerks are now working in state of the art facilities facilitated by the Abbott Fund and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW). Before recruitment of data Clerks, all 23 Regional laboratories had no data clerk to manage data. This role was assigned to either medical attendants who were not trained on data management or lab technologist who are occupied by core lab activities, and this in some cases compromised the quality of the data
Tecla Mgema- Laboratory Technologist, Kagera Regional Hospital
“My presence in this hospital has brought a lot of positive changes. As patients are attended to on time and with maximum efficiency.However, sometimes we can’t do other tests because of inadequate reagents for laboratory test.”
Through our field visits it has been revealed that the Regional laboratories are becoming more operational and have increased the potential to provide broad support for quality diagnostics and performing Laboratory activities. However major challenges experienced are lack of constant stock and availability of laboratory supplies and reagents, which are to be availed by the MOHSW, Medical Stores Department and/or other private suppliers designated by the Regional Hospitals. This is attested by Regional Laboratory Technologist for Kigoma, Mr Amos Sindiyo, who confirms such challenges and efforts to address them are underway. Furthermore, the Mkapa Foundation will be tabling the noted challenges to the MOHSW during the policy table discussion forums in order to seek for central level intervention and support to the regional hospitals. This will improve the overall capacity of laboratories and maximum utilization of the existing qualified laboratory personnel at the Regional hospitals.
This is where we work with this project: