The SPHaïtiLAB project is part of the European Union program “Supporting Public Health Institutes”.
Since 2015, the program has provided support to seven other capacity-building projects within institutes or schools of public health around the world (Bangladesh, Burundi, Kenya, Laos, Myanmar, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), allowing beneficiaries to provide strategic, evidence-based and locally-adapted policy advice to health authorities and stakeholders, as well as training and other decision-making support. The program also helps project teams develop and monitor the implementation of health policies at the national or sub-national level.
The main objective of the SPHaïtiLAB project is to contribute to improving health in Haiti through analysis and strategic advice on laboratory policy.
The specific objectives are:
- To support the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population and the National Public Health Laboratory (LNSP, Laboratoire National de Santé Publique in French) for strategic decision-making based on an evaluation of the existing regulatory framework, an analysis of the local context and key data;
- To strengthen the LNSP’s expertise, knowledge and resources.
- Conduct an operational study of the prevalence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis;
- Provide technical consultations for the development and validation of the Ministry of Public Health and Population’s framework documents for applied research policy, laboratory policy, strategic plan, operational plan, training plan and quality plan:
- Develop an applied research public health policy focused on the diagnosis and epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases, and conduct a pilot study;
- Set up training sessions and workshops to draft national laboratory policy;
- Organize national and international training workshops;
- Improve the IT system for laboratory management;
- Recruit new staff;
- Train LNSP staff in project management, fundraising and new diagnostics;
- Provide additional personnel for project coordination.
Exploring TB prevalence in Haiti and ensuring quality diagnosis
Sampling for the pilot study on the prevalence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, conducted by the GHESKIO Centers (the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections), beginning April 2016, was finished on November 31, 2017. This study was conducted at five sites across the country. A total of 991 samples were sent to GHESKIO/IMIS for processing. Data analysis is underway.
The mobile team from the GHESKIO Centers also provided training supervision to support the laboratories participating in the study and assessments and training for four additional laboratories engaged in the TB surveillance network.
Within the project, the personnel of seven laboratories also received training:
- In 2016, 18 people received biosecurity training;
- In 2017, 8 people received training in the diagnosis of tuberculosis through the GeneXpert® MTB/RIF method.
A country-wide assessment of medical labs
In addition, we conducted a cross-sectoral evaluation of 30 laboratories across the country, with three laboratories per département, thanks to a partnership between the National Public Health Laboratory (LNSP), the African Institute of Public Health (IASP) and the Mérieux Foundation. We adopted a standardized approach for the collection and analysis of field data and presented our findings in May 2016.
Preparing the next five-year plan
Also in collaboration with the LNSP, the IASP and the Mérieux Foundation, we carried out an assessment in August 2016 of the National Laboratory Network’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, 2010-2015. This work highlighted both strengths and areas for improvement for the purposes of drafting and implementing the framework document in view of writing the next Strategic Plan.
The drafting of the Strategic Plan 2018-2022 began in February 2017, with the organization of working groups to facilitate it and a workshop and consultation forum to complete the document. A limited group is working on the budget of this Plan.
Drafting a national laboratory policy
Moreover, working hand in hand with technical and financial partners, the LNSP used the results of the two assessments carried out as part of the SPHaïtiLab project to draft Haiti’s National Laboratory Policy. This document was discussed during a workshop for a limited number of participants and a consultation workshop with the sector’s stakeholders.
Newcomers enrich the LNSP
Finally, additional staff were hired to join the LNSP: a research coordinator, an officer in charge of the laboratory management IT system, a biosafety officer and a communications officer, all of whom will help LNSP develop these different areas of activity. Staff from the GHESKIO Centers were assigned to and supported by the SPHaïtiLAB project for a pilot study on the prevalence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, training and supervision of partner sites.
The SPHaïtiLAB project helped organize two training courses in 2017.
The first one was about “Advocacy and Applied Knowledge” and was conducted jointly with GFA. Its aim was to provide participants with practical tools on the use of key data to help shape public health decision-making. The participants were from the Ministry of Public Health and Population, the GHESKIO Centers and the Mérieux Foundation.
The second training, in “Project Management”, conducted jointly with the Bioforce Institute, aimed at strengthening capacities on the different phases of a project’s life and the tools for programming and assessment. The participants were from the Ministry of Public Health and Population, the GHESKIO Centers and the Mérieux Foundation.