For regional projects to strengthen laboratory operations to succeed there must be active and supportive partnerships between implementing entities and policy-makers within Ministries of Health and CARICOM.
This is the major finding of a review of Laboratory Strengthening Regional Projects which the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation conducted in 2012, under the PANCAP global Fund grant. The exercise involved document reviews and key informant interviews to gather data for analysis and determination of challenges, best practices and critical success factors.
The review included projects implemented by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in 23 countries between 2002 and 2007 and the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation in partnership with CARICOM/PANCAP in 2011-2012. CMLF Director, Ms Valerie Wilson, and CMLF Laboratory and Quality Systems Specialist, Ms Wendy Kitson-Piggott carried out the review and analysis.
The following were identified as key critical success implementation strategies:
- Credible regional organisation as implementing agency.
- Tangible support from Ministries of health.
- Active support for introduction of regional policies through CARICOM.
- National champions for laboratory quality improvement to ensure national implementation and follow-up.
- Establishment, resourcing and sustained implementation of national laboratory strategic plans, and
- Tangible, supportive and complementary partnership between agencies working on laboratory strengthening within the region.
This review is particularly timely, coming as it did in time for the launch of the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Public Health Agency in January, 2013.
The Caribbean Med Labs Foundation presented findings of this review at the annual conference of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), South Africa, in December 2012.