A new international initiative was launched in July to make tuberculosis diagnostics more widely available in African countries, especially for HIV-associated and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The burden of tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant forms, is high, while the prevalence of tuberculosis and HIV co-infection is about 34% in southern and eastern African countries.
Laboratories need to be able to detect tuberculosis in all its forms rapidly and accurately, so that patients can be given prompt and appropriate treatment.
The Global Laboratory Initiative for Africa (GLI Africa) was launched to support countries in the WHO African Region to achieve quality-assured, accessible and sustainable tuberculosis laboratory services.
This first GLI Africa workshop was organized in July in Uganda and brought together representatives of National Tuberculosis Control Programmes and National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratories from more than 20 African countries, technical partners, multilateral agencies, donors and other key stakeholders.
The workshop identified key priorities for strengthening tuberculosis diagnostic networks in Africa and participants drafted the Kampala Declaration, which describes the next steps needed to strengthen tuberculosis diagnostic networks on the continent and affirms the role of GLI Africa as a partnership that can drive these steps forward.
Uganda has made considerable progress in building laboratory capacity in recent years.
The Uganda National TB Laboratory was accredited by WHO to become a supranational laboratory in 2013, giving the laboratory a mandate to support laboratory capacity building efforts in 11 African countries.