Since the 1980s HIV/AIDS has spread throughout the world affecting millions in every demographic. The disease has threatened the life expectancy, education, and socio-economic growth of countries throughout the world, having the highest incidence and prevalence as well as impact on developing countries such as those in regions of Sub Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. Major milestones have been achieved to lower the number of PLHIV, accelerate access to multidrug therapy for treatment, implement methods to prevent transmission, and facilitate rapid diagnostic approaches. Despite these advances, there is still much work to be done to achieve the UNAIDs 95-95-95 targets and attain epidemic control by 2030.
Improving laboratory services is an essential component of the PEPFAR strategic plan and is important in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Hence, an integrated health system strengthening program to tackle diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB that incorporate laboratory quality systems improvement is absolutely necessary. Our main goal at GLESSN is to assist governments in the Caribbean region to strengthen the public health sector by building long-term and sustainable laboratory systems to effectively support HIV and AIDS treatment programs.
Under this Cooperative agreement, GLESSN will provide robust system strengthening to ensure increased access to high quality laboratory services which efficiently support the HIV care and treatment programs in the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana. Over the next 3 years all intervention strategies will be designed to ensure a more competent workforce through capacity building, continuous quality improvement and other novel approaches using current technological solutions as necessary, to improve service provision.
Our strategies will include working in partnership with local and regional PEPFAR stakeholders and partners. We will provide support to execute and expand HIV testing, training and certification programs (for HIV Rapid testing, Index testing, Self testing, Recency testing), develop and execute activities for QMS development (especially SLMTA, SLIPTA, Caribbean LQMS-SIP), implement tools to strengthen the laboratory networks (EQA, QC programs, LIS), increase access to HIV related testing (VL and HIV Drug Resistance testing) and ensure viable data collection systems are transitioned to country programs (VL dashboard, ePT platform and SOP virtual library).
The overall result will be a strong and integrated national laboratory network working in tandem with the national HIV/AIDS program of the Ministries of Health. By the end of the project period, GLESSN would have contributed to several important outcomes including strengthening the Lab-Clinic interface, improving quality assurance, decreasing testing errors and improving lab data management in the Caribbean region.