Tropical Lab Initiative

The Tropical Laboratory Initiative (TLI) is designed to fill this research and operational gap by rethinking the traditional laboratory and making diagnostics more readily available to patients in rural and remote areas. The goal of TLI is to develop and validate an integrated package of diagnostics that can be easily deployed at the point of care in remote rural communities. TLI has three primary objectives:

  1. To reduce the number of missed and misdiagnosed cases
  2. To provide an entry point into clinical care, particularly through the delivery of diagnostics and treatment at the household level
  3. To significantly reduce morbidity and mortality associated with malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), neglected tropical diseases, and pregnancy-related complications.

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TLI achieves these objectives by focusing on building human capacity and competency; adapting the physical infrastructure of laboratories to rural settings; equipping laboratories with reliable, affordable, and context-appropriate diagnostic tools and equipment; developing improved processes and quality control protocols; and working with the government to integrate TLI-supported labs into the existing health systems.

Ensuring that diagnostic tools are available not only at referral centers, but also at local facilities and even households, allows diagnosis to be made quickly so that patients are able to rapidly commence appropriate and often life-saving treatment. The project has developed and validated an integrated package of diagnostics that can be administered at the point of care in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on making the latest high-impact, low-cost technologies available. The package of diagnostics covers the main investigations required for antenatal care, as well as tests for malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and basic biochemical analysis.

The project was designed to incorporate existing local and regional operations, in order to have access to a wider range of diagnostic equipment including CD4 count and PCR for HIV diagnosis. Previously, these were only available at the district and regional levels.As of the end of 2012, a fully functional laboratory has opened, and laboratory and medical staff have received training on the integrated diagnostic package.

The Bonsaaso TLI project is a collaboration between the Millennium Villages Project
Bonsaaso Health Team and the GlaxoSmithKline PULSE program, which enables GSK employees to dedicate six months to a non-profit or NGO.

Since Bonsaaso, two additional TLI projects were launched in Koraro (Ethiopia) and Ruhiira (Uganda). Plans are underway to include Mwandama (Malawi) and Sauri (Kenya).

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Contact

For more information on the Tropical Laboratory Initiative, visit http://www.tropicallab.org or contact Dr. Yanis Ben Amor.