Developing a competent health workforce in both quantity and quality (qualifications) is a key to building capacity for improvement in health programming. Current and future health challenges demand continuous updating of competencies and skills which forms the basis for education, training development and workforce planning. There is palpable evidence from the results that the EAPHLN Project has provided the necessary support to promote increased number of highly qualified and trained laboratory workforce. In Uganda, the project is supporting short-term training in various disciplines and using various approaches that include, regional, national and on-site avenues.
Regional trainings are prepared and coordinated by the Regional Training and Capacity Building Technical Working Group in collaboration with the ECSA-Health community. Training for a core team of experts in each country who can then be used to cascade and provide training to other health personnel at the national, in-country regional/zonal and on-site work force.
Laboratory staff from Uganda have so far participated in 25 regional training since project inception in 2011. These trainings were supported and convened under the project, with participants from all the participating countries, 15 in the year 2011-12, seven in 2012/13 and five between July and December 2013. The training were in the following disciplines; Molecular diagnostics for enteric, Laboratory management, Disease Surveillance and outbreak investigations, Bio risk Management, Basic & Advanced ICT, procurement training and Laboratory Assessors (auditors) training, Operational research, ICT-TYPO3, Typo3 refresher course, Procurement, Biosecurity Assessors training, Procurement Training, Quality Management Systems; and Monitoring and Evaluation.
Some trainings were cascaded, utilizing the expertise from other partners in the countries; TB Microscopy & liquid culture, Tuberculosis culture and identification, MDR TB, Strengthening Laboratory Management towards Accreditation (SLMTA), specimen collection and shipment, Performance Based Financing, Diagnostic Molecular Biology, Research Methodology and Scientific Writing, Laboratory Mentorship and malaria microscopy, Laboratory Management, Disease Surveillance and outbreak investigations, Biorisk Management, New diagnostic techniques (GeneXpert), Good Clinical Laboratory practice, and Project specific Monitoring and Evaluation.
The need to improve monitoring the implementation of the national training plans and following up to assess training outcomes at project sites persists. Tools for monitoring the implementation of participant’s action plan and monitor the training outcomes has already been developed. The mentors hired at national level are supporting the teams that have been trained at the regional or national level to cascade training of in-country site specific and zonal/regional teams in the satellites’ catchment areas. In Uganda before January 2013, Mentors have not been very efficient in documenting their results of their training and capacity building efforts. Which explains the sub-optimal performance for IOI # 8 and 9, despite resources expended as well as the exponential growth in numbers and areas since January 2013.
The participating countries had agreed to expand TCB using the e-learning platforms, by developing some training modules for different courses, each country was tasked to take lead in developing one of these training modules following regionally agreed standardized structures. Modules developed were on the following courses; Laboratory Management (Developed by Tanzania), Bio risk management (Uganda), Laboratory Based Surveillance (Kenya), ICT (Rwanda) and Operations research (Kenya-KEMRI). Laboratory Based Surveillance, Laboratory Management and Operations research, have been successfully piloted for training laboratory staff in the region. The five modules are ready for conversion to multi-media so that they can be accessed online by staff from the satellite sites and other health personnel in the region and beyond as means of alternative for training and building capacity of laboratory personnel in the member states.