The Malaria Control and Prevention Program of the CBCHS held a 2- Day Workshop on Laboratory Diagnosis of Malaria at the Health Services Complex, Mutengene. The training that held from August 11 to 12, 2021 brought together 37 heads of laboratory from all facilities with some braving it from distances like Ndu, Mbem, Tibati, Banyo, Sarkibaka etc.
The Malaria Focal Point, Dr. Nfor Emmanuel said that past data had shown very large discrepancies between suspected and confirmed cases of malaria from the different facilities. It was thus necessary to bring together all heads of Laboratory in a training of trainers meeting to refresh minds on the proper diagnosis of malaria and review challenges on the field.
Modules covered during the training included; an overview of malaria and national endemicity, an overview of malaria data within the CBCHS for 2020, malaria disease management, approaches to malaria diagnosis, misdiagnosis of malaria and consequences, the role of biomedical engineering in laboratory diagnosis, and novel technologies in malaria diagnosis (Gazelle Hemexhealth Diagnostic Tool).
It should be noted that this was the very first time for laboratory staff of the CBC Health Services to be brought together for a training like this one. From the interactions and discussions that followed, the laboratory staff brought out many challenges amongst which were the following:
- Seminars or workshops for laboratory staff to share their knowledge and challenges on the field and improve on their skills have never been organized in the past.
- The last training for laboratory technicians was done in 2005 and since then laboratory staff are recruited and not given any orientation or refresher courses to upgrade their knowledge and skills, and recent advancement in diagnostic procedures.
- Laboratory work is neglected, without proper and regular inspections, nor organization of workshops and seminars as other units do.
- Some laboratories in certain facilities have a single technician who is overworked on days when patient’s attendance is high, and laboratory is closed when he/she is out of the facility.
- Quality assurance is not intentionally carried out in most laboratories since there are no regular inspections.
- Some technicians have remained in the remote areas for too long with no opportunity to learn new test procedures, no supervision and exposure to recent developments in the diagnostic field making them redundant.
Despite these challenges, the technicians left Mutengene with the firm determination to keep the laboratories functional and to henceforth communicate regularly among themselves, thanks to the WhatsApp Forum created.
The Malaria Control and Prevention Program within the month also received ethical clearance from the CBC Health Services’ Institutional Review Board to carry out two studies;
1) Challenges and Knowledge Gaps in Malaria Management within the CBC Health Services: A Stakeholder Approach to Improving uptake of Malaria Prevention and Treatment Options for childhood Malaria in Cameroon
2) Trends in Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia in Pregnant women and Children below 5years in selected Health Facilities in Cameroon – a three (3) years Retrospective Cohort Study.
Findings from these two studies will help to improve on malaria management and service delivery in general within the CBC Health Services.