• Journal Article

Health laboratories in the Tanga region of Tanzania: The quality of diagnostic services for malaria and other communicable diseases

Citation

Ishengoma, D. R., Rwegoshora, R. T., Mdira, K. Y., Kamugisha, M. L., Anga, E. O., Bygbjerg, I. C., ... Magesa, S. (2009). Health laboratories in the Tanga region of Tanzania: The quality of diagnostic services for malaria and other communicable diseases. Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology, 103(5), 441-453. DOI: 10.1179/136485909X451726

Abstract

Although critical for good case management and the monitoring of health interventions, the health-laboratory services in sub-Saharan Africa are grossly compromised by poor infrastructures and a lack of trained personnel, essential reagents and other supplies. The availability and quality of diagnostic services in 37 health laboratories in three districts of the Tanga region of Tanzania have recently been assessed. The results of the survey, which involved interviews with health workers, observations and a documentary review, revealed that malaria accounted for >50% of admissions and out-patient visits. Most (92%) of the laboratories were carrying out malaria diagnosis and 89% were measuring haemoglobin concentrations but only one (3%) was conducting culture and sensitivity tests, and those only on urine and pus samples. Only 14 (17%) of the 84 people found working in the visited laboratories were laboratory technologists with a diploma certificate or higher qualification. Sixteen (43%) of the study laboratories each had five or fewer types of equipment and only seven (19%) had more than 11 types each. Although 11 (30%) of the laboratories reported that they conducted internal quality control, none had standard operating procedures (SOP) on display or evidence of such quality assurance. Although malaria was the main health problem, diagnostic services for malaria and other diseases were inadequate and of poor quality because of the limited human resources, poor equipment and shortage of supplies. If the health services in Tanga are not to be overwhelmed by the progressively increasing burden of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other emerging and re-emerging diseases, more funding and appropriate policies to improve the availability and quality of the area's diagnostic services will clearly be required