Strengthening Laboratory Services
Since late 2006, global and national partners had already been working to improve Lesotho’s TB diagnostic capabilities, including strengthening the National Reference Laboratory (NRL). WHO recommends implementing the new technologies first in the country’s national reference laboratory, so that it can provide experience during scale-up to the rest of the laboratory system.
Partners in Health, with funding from the Open Society Institute, had established a partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH&SW) to launch a treatment programme for MDR-TB.
In addition, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) had signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in April 2007 to help prepare the laboratory system in Lesotho to introduce new diagnostic technologies. The MOH&SW coordinated several levels of global and national support to rehabilitate the NRL and institute laboratory staff training programmes. It installed new equipment bought through the Global Fund, streamlined work-flow, and recruited additional technicians to tackle the new workload.
WHO provided technical guidance and appointed a country-based WHO medical officer to support laboratory strengthening. Partners in Health provided logistics and financial assistance. FIND provided an on-site technical expert for renovation and provided a liquid culture system and rapid strip test to detect TB in cultures.
Thanks to the close collaboration among multiple stakeholders, Lesotho established a state-of-the-art mycobacteriology laboratory and rapidly introduced new TB diagnostic technologies needed to address the challenges posed by MDR- and XDR-TB.