n South African Medical Journal - Implementation of a new 'community' laboratory CD4 service in a rural health district in South Africa extends laboratory services and substantially improves local reporting turnaround time : research

Volume 106, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The CD4 integrated service delivery model (ITSDM) provides for reasonable access to pathology services across South Africa (SA) by offering three new service tiers that extend services into remote, under-serviced areas. ITSDM identified Pixley ka Seme as such an under-serviced district.

To address the poor service delivery in this area, a new ITSDM community (tier 3) laboratory was established in De Aar, SA. Laboratory performance and turnaround time (TAT) were monitored post implementation to assess the impact on local service delivery.Methods. Using the National Health Laboratory Service Corporate Data Warehouse, CD4 data were extracted for the period April 2012 - July 2013 (n=11 964). Total mean TAT (in hours) was calculated and pre-analytical and analytical components assessed. Ongoing testing volumes, as well as external quality assessment performance across ten trials, were used to indicate post-implementation success. Data were analysed using Stata 12.
Prior to the implementation of CD4 testing at De Aar, the total mean TAT was 20.5 hours. This fell to 8.2 hours post implementation, predominantly as a result of a lower pre-analytical mean TAT reducing from a mean of 18.9 to 1.8 hours. The analytical testing TAT remained unchanged after implementation and monthly test volumes increased by up to 20%. External quality assessment indicated adequate performance. Although subjective, questionnaires sent to facilities reported improved service delivery.
Establishing CD4 testing in a remote community laboratory substantially reduces overall TAT. Additional community CD4 laboratories should be established in under-serviced areas, especially where laboratory infrastructure is already in place.

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