Accurate and reliable diagnosis is the cornerstone of disease management and prevention. Laboratories provide the bulk of available diagnostic techniques and are indispensable in healthcare delivery. A reliable and properly organized laboratory system not only generates information critical to individual case management but also to disease surveillance and control. In addition, operational research which plays a key role in designing diagnostic and treatment schemes cannot do without laboratory data.
Furthermore, maintaining a functional and effective national health laboratory structure and network is a complex undertaking that requires the guidance, support and regulation of well laid down policies. On its part, the Ministry of Health has spared no effort in ensuring availability of the relevant framework for effective laboratory services. In line with this, a process to develop the National Health Laboratories Policy was initiated about 10 years ago; and over the past 2 years, the Ministry has collaborated with partners including the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), CDC-Uganda and AMREF among others to accelerate the process. This renewed effort has culminated into the first Uganda National Health Laboratory Policy Document.
Developed in the context of the National Health Policy, the Health Sector Strategic Plan I and II and the Public Private Partnerships Policy, this policy is geared to availing reliable laboratory services to all people in Uganda so as to support the delivery of the Uganda Minimum Health Care Package. The policy sets direction in 13 key areas that are fundamental to attaining available and sustainable quality laboratory services in the country; including; organization and management; delivery of the services; laboratory facilities and safety; laboratory equipment and supplies; human resources; quality management systems; information systems; research and development; community involvement; partnerships; regulatory and legal framework; monitoring and evaluation; and financing and accountability.
For each of the subject areas, a number of feasible and cost-effective strategies have been outlined. The policy will thus form the basis for development of a 5 year strategic plan for the delivery of robust and coordinated laboratory services for the country.
This policy is a comprehensive document that addresses all the critical issues for reliable laboratory services in the country. It marks a major milestone to support the development and delivery of the Uganda‟s healthcare system. All stakeholders will find the document to be an invaluable resource material.
Dr. Sam Zaramba
Director General Health Services