The first national workshop on blood culture was organized 21-22 February in Phnom Penh by the Cambodian Ministry of Health and the University of Health Sciences (UHS), in collaboration with the Sihanouk Hospital Centre of Hope (SHCH), the Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp (ITM), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program (DMDP), the Naval Medical Research Program 2 (NAMRU2) and Fondation Mérieux.
Introducing an essential test in Cambodia
The workshop is part of a broader, national project to introduce the use of blood culture in Cambodian provincial laboratories. Blood culture is one of the most essential analyses performed by a microbiology laboratory. It is an important tool for the diagnosis of sepsis and the valuable information it provides to the medical team can improve patient prognosis. Blood culture also plays a role in disease surveillance and infection control at both hospital and national levels.
Learning good practices
The aim of this first national workshop was to introduce good practices for blood culture in six provincial hospitals of Cambodia (Battambang, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kossamak and the National Pediatric Hospital). The hospitals are part of a national network of microbiology, created to enhance patient care in Cambodia by providing good quality health services and education about the most prevalent pathogens, their susceptibility to antibiotics and clinical presentation.
During plenary sessions, participants were given key information about:
the main pathogens (e.g., Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Burkholderia pseudomallei and Staphylococcus aureus)
the issue of antibiotic resistance and the need for guidelines for treatment and rational use of antibiotics
the importance of team work and close communication between the hospital ward and the laboratory.
Participants were also divided into groups (clinicians, nurses, laboratory staff), for some practical, interactive sessions, where they had the opportunity to exchange their experiences. Not only did the workshop foster knowledge-sharing between healthcare professionals from different hospitals nationwide, but also across borders; two representatives from Lao National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE) participated.
Commercial blood culture bottles are not affordable for Cambodian provincial laboratories. This initiative has been made possible thanks to the local production and distribution of blood culture bottles by the Central Media Making Laboratory at the UHS and the support of DMDP.
Over the coming months, participating laboratories will monitor blood culture quality indicators. A second workshop will be organized, during which each laboratory will present the results of this monitoring (total number of blood cultures, % of contamination, % of clinically significant pathogens, blood sample volume,…) and any corrective actions will be determined to ensure optimal use of this important diagnostic tool.