oa African Journal of Laboratory Medicine - Improving quality in national reference laboratories : the role of SLMTA and mentorship : original research

Volume 5 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2225-2002
  • E-ISSN: 2225-2010



The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research houses two reference laboratories: the virology and tuberculosis laboratories. Both were enrolled in the Strengthening Laboratory Management Toward Accreditation (SLMTA) programme.

To describe the impact of SLMTA and discuss factors affecting the results, with an emphasis on mentorship.
The SLMTA programme was implemented from April 2010 through November 2012. Participants attended three workshops and executed quality improvement projects; laboratory auditors evaluated performance using a standard checklist. The virology laboratory did not receive mentorship; however, the tuberculosis laboratory had an international mentor who visited the laboratory four times during the programme, spending two to four weeks embedded within the laboratory during each visit.
There was an overall improvement in the performance of both laboratories, with the virology laboratory increasing 13% (from 80% at baseline to 93% at exit audit) and the tuberculosis laboratory increasing 29% (from 66% to 95%). These scores were maintained nine months later at the surveillance audit.
The SLMTA programme resulted in improved and sustained quality management performance for both laboratories. Mentoring was a possible factor in the substantial improvement made by the tuberculosis laboratory and should be considered in order to augment the training received from the SLMTA workshops.

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