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Implementing and Measuring the Level of Laboratory Service Integration in a Program Setting in Nigeria

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Background

The surge of donor funds to fight HIV&AIDS epidemic inadvertently resulted in the setup of laboratories as parallel structures to rapidly respond to the identified need. However these parallel structures are a threat to the existing fragile laboratory systems. Laboratory service integration is critical to remedy this situation. This paper describes an approach to quantitatively measure and track integration of HIV-related laboratory services into the mainstream laboratory services and highlight some key intervention steps taken, to enhance service integration.

Method

A quantitative before-and-after study conducted in 122 Family Health International (FHI360) supported health facilities across Nigeria. A minimum service package was identified including management structure; trainings; equipment utilization and maintenance; information, commodity and quality management for laboratory integration. A check list was used to assess facilities at baseline and 3 months follow-up. Level of integration was assessed on an ordinal scale (0 = no integration, 1 = partial integration, 2 = full integration) for each service package. A composite score grading expressed as a percentage of total obtainable score of 14 was defined and used to classify facilities (≤80% FULL, 25% to 79% PARTIAL and <25% NO integration). Weaknesses were noted and addressed.

Results

We analyzed 9 (7.4%) primary, 104 (85.2%) secondary and 9 (7.4%) tertiary level facilities. There were statistically significant differences in integration levels between baseline and 3 months follow-up period (p<0.01). Baseline median total integration score was 4 (IQR 3 to 5) compared to 7 (IQR 4 to 9) at 3 months follow-up (p = 0.000). Partial and fully integrated laboratory systems were 64 (52.5%) and 0 (0.0%) at baseline, compared to 100 (82.0%) and 3 (2.4%) respectively at 3 months follow-up (p = 0.000).

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