In this opinion paper, we discuss lessons learned from the global scale-up of these laboratory devices and the pathway to tapping the potential of laboratory-generated information in the field of TB by using connectivity. Responding to the demand for connectivity, innovative third-party players have proposed solutions that have been widely adopted by field users of the Xpert® MTB/RIF assay. The experience associated with the utilisation of these systems, which facilitate the monitoring of wide laboratory networks, stressed the need for a more global and comprehensive approach to diagnostic connectivity. In addition to facilitating the reporting of test results, the mobility of digital information allows the sharing of information generated in programme settings. When they become easily accessible, these data can be used to improve patient care, disease surveillance and drug discovery. We list several examples of initiatives that should allow data sources to be combined to improve the understanding of the epidemic, support the operational response and, finally, accelerate TB elimination.

Ethiopia has achieved rapid expansion of TB microscopic centers for acid fast bacilli (AFB). However, external quality assurance (EQA) services were, until recently, limited to few regional and sub-regional laboratories. In this paper, we describe the decentralization experience and the result of EQA using random blinded rechecking. We decentralized sputum smear AFB EQA from 4 regional laboratories (RRLs) to 82 EQA centers and enrolled 956 health facilities (HFs) in EQA schemes. From 2012 to 2014 (Phase I), the false positivity rate declined from 0.6% to 0.2% and false negativity fell from as high as 7.6% to 1.6% in supported HFs. In HFs that joined in Phase II, FN rates ranged from 5.6% to 7.3%. The proportion of HFs without errors increased from 77.9% to 90.5% in Phase I HFs and from 82.9% to 86.9% in Phase II HFs. Overall sensitivity and specificity were 95.0% and 99.7%, respectively. Positive predictive and negative predictive values were 93.3% and 99.7%, respectively. Decentralizing blinded rechecking of sputum smear microscopy is feasible in low-income settings. While a comprehensive laboratory improvement strategy enhanced the quality of microscopy, laboratory professionals' capacity in slide reading and smear quality requires continued support.

Abstract Two laboratories extensively investigated the use of HPTLC to perform assays on lamivudine-zidovudine, metronidazole, nevirapine, and quinine composite samples. To minimize the effects of differences in analysts' technique, the laboratories conducted the study with automatic sample application devices in conjunction with variable-wavelength scanning densitometers to evaluate the plates.

In low income countries, Ziehl-Neelsen sputum smear microscopy is the only cost-effective tool for diagnosis and monitoring of patients on treatment for tuberculosis.The objective of this study was to investigate the role of AFB microscopy refresher training on the performance of laboratory professionals in Ethiopia. Training has improved theoretical and practical performance of laboratory professionals. Pre-placement and continuous training irrespective of lab professionals' qualifications and service year and sustainable external quality assessment are highly recommended to ensure quality of AFB microscopy services.

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