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The laboratory client has over the years become more aware of their right to health including laboratory services. The Ministry of Health has the Client Charter (2013) that operationalizes the education of patients on their right to health and services expectations. Despite the availability of this policy framework, there is inadequate health promotion on the role and use of laboratory services and community rights to appropriate laboratory diagnostic testing.

The laboratory client has over the years become more aware of their right to health including laboratory services. The Ministry of Health has the Client Charter (2013) that operationalizes the education of patients on their right to health and services expectations. Despite the availability of this policy framework, there is inadequate health promotion on the role and use of laboratory services and community rights to appropriate laboratory diagnostic

The National Health Laboratory Services sets to make laboratory services an integral part of the health services responsiveness to the community needs and is adhering to ethical standards, Laboratory staff is handling clients with respect and is safeguarding client confidentiality and privacy. Communities are always informed about their rights to appropriate diagnostic testing and about their roles and usage of laboratory services.

Uganda is a resource-limited country where the majorities of the people (over 60%) are living in rural or difficultly access areas and are out of reach of the existing formal structures of the national health care systems, particularly laboratory services. Laboratory services are existing at national, regional, district, health-sub district and sub-county levels and capacity at community level is largely lacking. This top-down structure fails to reach the very people who stand to benefit most from it. There is, therefore, a recognized gap between the availability of laboratory services and the majority of the people who should be beneficiaries.

The “Community Laboratory Initiative” (CLI) is a good strategy to mitigate the gap in community access to laboratory services. This approach is recognizing a model of an integrated package of “Rapid Diagnostic Tests”(RDT) aiming at the key health targets – reducing of infant and maternal mortality in remote rural communities; the challenges posed by malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infections, nutritional deficiencies, neglected tropical diseases and other local relevant public health threats.

The UNHLS is implementing this bottom-up, people-centered approach which is eliminating the current gap in access to laboratory services and creating coherence across the whole platform of diagnostic technologies from the sophisticated reference laboratory to the rapid diagnostic tests carried out by the primary health care workers in their communities.

By Mr.Guma Gaspard

Health Laboratory Technical Advisor