The DiaDev research project (Investigating the Design and Use of Diagnostic Devices in Global Health) invited experts in the field of laboratory medicine in Sierra Leone to a meeting to discuss and reflect on the role of point-of-care diagnostics in health system strengthening and emergency preparedness in the country. The development of diagnostic devices that can be deployed at or close to the point of care and are capable of turning around results in minutes or hours present new opportunities for improving patient care and disease surveillance in Sierra Leone. However, the integration of point of care diagnostics with existing health infrastructures also poses numerous questions and operational challenges. These include: what types of point-of-care devices are most needed during outbreaks, bench-top devices that are more reliable but require laboratory infrastructure or rapid diagnostic tests that are less accurate but can be deployed at a primary care level? How do health systems - including supply systems, maintenance, waste, quality assurance and health information systems - need to be restructured to accommodate new devices? And what role might central laboratories play in strengthening diagnosis in primary health care?

The meeting was an opportunity to reflect on these questions and identify priorities for the role of point-of-care diagnostic devices in laboratory strengthening going forward.

The meeting will result in a co-authored working paper that summarises the key points and recommendations for stakeholders in the sector.

Speakers: Dr Isata Wurie, Dr Zikan Koroma, Doris Harding, Mambu Momoh, Dr Rashid Ansumana, James Rogers, Hashim Rogers, Dr Kan Biao

Aim and objectives

Experts in the field of laboratory medicine will describe their work in the sector,
present reflections on existing laboratory capacity building efforts in the country, discuss the role of point-of-care devices in emergency preparedness and future laboratory systems and identify priorities for laboratory strengthening going forward.
The DiaDev research project will present preliminary insights from fieldwork about the use and availability of diagnostic devices in Western Area Rural and Connaught hospital.

Abstracts of presentations and summaries of discussion points published on event website.
Co-authored working paper on ‘Future laboratory systems in Sierra Leone: the role of point of-care diagnostics and priorities for action’, published on project and relevant global health websites. Submitted as conference proceedings to journal.

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