The recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa clearly demonstrated the critical role of laboratory systems and networks in responding to epidemics. Because of the huge challenges in establishing functional laboratories at all tiers of health systems in developing countries, strengthening specimen referral networks is critical. In this review article, we propose a platform strategy for developing specimen referral networks based on 2 models: centralized and decentralized laboratory specimen referral networks.
Evaluation of community-based interventions to improve TB case detection in a rural district of Tanzania
In Tanzania, people with tuberculosis (TB) commonly self-medicate or visit traditional healers before seeking formal medical care. Between 2009 and 2011, we piloted a community-based project in Kisarawe District to improve TB case notification. The project trained 15 traditional healers and 15 pharmacists to identify and refer individuals with TB symptoms to diagnostic facilities. In addition, the project trained 2 community members to collect and fix sputum from symptomatic individuals onto slides, which they then delivered by bicycle to the nearest diagnostic facility.