Country Representative, Options Consultancy Services, Dr Mohamed Yilla commended Government through the Ministry of Health for the initiative to support the assessment, which in the past had limited resources to carryout clinical and diagnostic services, noting that there was need for improved services for a better health service delivery.
Giving a background and findings of the rapid assessment and clinical laboratory systems, Dr Victor Matt Lebby, said the assessment was carried out in 2015 and covered all 14 districts in Sierra Leone.
He noted that findings from the assessment will contribute to a clear understanding of the current capacities and limitations of laboratories at district level, and the report will provide the MOHS and health partners with factual data that will inform the imminent review of the National Laboratory Strategic Plan and development of an action plan to strengthen laboratory services.
Dr Lebby furthered that the methodology tool used comprised of 14 sections and was partially modelled on the WHO identification of key elements in a laboratory system.
He said there are an estimated 1,200 laboratory facilities across Sierra Leone, a total of 315 facilities were sampled between 22-24 facilities per district.
The assessment contained key findings involving nine thematic areas as well as a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, including threats within the system.
Programme Manager, Hospital and Laboratory Services, Dr. Abdul Kamara, a in a detailed power point presentation, made a nine point recommendation of key priority areas for strengthening the laboratory system, which include human resource, Biosafety policies and procedures, infrastructure, laboratory supply chain and information management systems, high quality laboratory funding and management systems, including laboratory governance.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Abubakarr Fofanah, while launching the report, explained that the country is just emerging from one of the most challenging public health epidemics in its history with the outbreak of the ebola epidemic, and it has stretched the health sector to the limit.
In this regard, a strong, responsive and functional health system is crucial to detect, control and prevent future public health outbreaks.
He stressed that a vibrant medical laboratory system is essential in the health sector and the delivery of services to the people of Sierra Leone.
Dr Fofanah maintained that the provision of quality medical laboratory services that provide accurate, timely and reliable diagnostic test facilities, the effective treatment of patients, early detection of conditions and effective prevention of potential outbreaks in Sierra Leone.
The health minister added that medical laboratories can play a crucial part in the more efficient use of scarce resources.
Contributions were also made by donor health partners with WHO and DFID making strong commitment of continued support to Government to strengthen the health sector.