Uganda’s laboratory human resource in the era of global health initiatives: experiences, constraints and opportunities—an assessment of 100 facilities.

In this article, Dr Suzanne Kiwanuka- SPEED Co-Principal Investigator and colleagues elucidate on the importance of laboratories in disease diagnosis, prevention, treatment and outbreak investigations. The team further examines the   factors that adversely affect the performance of laboratory professionals, who are the backbone of quality services.

Using a laboratory assessment tool adapted from the WHO and USAID assessment tool for laboratory services and supply chain (ATLAS), 2006, the team assessed about 100 laboratories of which 16 were referral laboratories (hubs). To assess human resource constraints, the team conducted 100 key informant interviews with laboratory managers and in charges.

The study revealed that across the facilities, there was an excess number of laboratory technicians at the Health Center (HC) IV level by 30% and laboratory assistants were in excess by 90%. There was a shortage of laboratory technologists with only 50% of the posts filled at general hospitals. About 87.5% of hub laboratories had conducted formal onsite training compared to 51.2% of the non-hub laboratories. Less than half of HC III laboratories had conducted a formal onsite training; hospital laboratories had not conducted training on the use and maintenance of equipment. Almost all HC III laboratories had been supervised though supervision focused on HIV/AIDS. Financial resources, workload and lack of supervision were major constraints to human resource strengthening.

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