During the past two years, Welbodi helped to facilitate a laboratory development project between ODCH and the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University, in collaboration with THET, the British Council and the Oxted Trust. In the first year, three technicians went to Swansea for laboratory training for a period of 4 weeks. This was a chance for them to see how a lab in the developed world functions, as well as to learn various laboratory techniques on equipment that had been purchased specifically for the lab at ODCH. After their return to Freetown, the technicians were able to start implementing the standard operating procedures that they prepared while in Swansea, tailored to the situation in Freetown. They also trained their colleagues in various techniques, such as using pipettes.
In July, a team of lab experts from the UK and the Gambia visited ODCH to provide technical advice and training to the lab technicians. They helped install the new equipment and put in place systems to make the laboratory services more efficient and beneficial to the patients. A key aspect of the visit was to build in quality control so the technicians would have confidence that they are delivering accurate results. The team from the UK and the Gambia returned again in November to wrap up the project.
The laboratory has definitely improved over the course of the two years. More tests are now available and the results are more reliable, although many challenges remain and there is still room for improvement. It is now up to the laboratory staff to continue working systematically and to aim for high standards, but the Welbodi Partnership will be there to support them in this effort. It is true that the laboratory staff face many challenges, including a heavy work load, serving both ODCH and the neighboring maternity hospital, and a shortage of consumables. We hope to be able to provide some equipment, such as microscopes, and to help with the organization within the laboratory. We will also continue to look for more training opportunities.
On behalf of the laboratory staff, we would like to thank ABMU and the other partners for their commitment to ODCH and for seeing this project through.