External Quality Assessment Programme (EQUAP) in the WHO African Region
In July 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a regional microbiology External Quality Assessment Programme (EQAP) for National Public Health Laboratories (NPHL’s) in the African region and enrolment was based on a WHO agreement with ministries of health in each country. The programme was revised and resumed in 2018 to include recommendations to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) according to the World Health Organisation, Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (WHO-GLASS) guideline.
The Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory and Culture Collection in the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses (AMRL-CC/CHARM) is designated as World Health OrganizationCollaborating Centrefor Antimicrobial Resistance under the WHO reference number SOA-43.
One of our activities is to build microbiology laboratory capacity and to improve surveillance for AMR in the WHO African region. We are committed to providing teaching, training and an External Quality Assessment Programme (EQAP) to facilitate good laboratory practice. EQA panels are sent twice a year to participants that are nominated by the Ministry of Health in each African country. Participating laboratories process samples sent and submit results for evaluation. Participants are assessed against the intended response, which are verified by referee laboratories.
Feedback on individual laboratory performance is provided to each participant along with the overall participant performance for challenge in the survey. This programme is published in the WHO EQAP Annual Report. EQA is a key element for the total Quality Management System (QMS) of a laboratory and is compulsory for laboratories who pursue accreditation.
Malaria Slide Bank
In 2018, the Parasitology Reference Laboratory of the NICD was awarded the bid to develop and maintain a Malaria Slide Bank (MSB) for the Elimination Eight (E8) countries. The E8 countries are working collectively towards malaria elimination in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and include Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Part of this project included offering a Proficiency Testing Scheme (PTS) for malaria microscopy to E8-approved laboratories within these countries.
PTS panels, comprising 10 thick and thin Giemsa-stained blood films, are distributed three times a year to participating laboratories who submit their identification and quantitation results on an online platform. Results are assessed for accuracy and consistency, after which individual reports are generated for each participant.