A biotech company helps battle malaria by injecting a strong dose of quality and consistency into Tanzania’s diagnostic systems
Despite a 25 percent drop in malaria deaths around the world since 2000, the disease still takes a heavy toll, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This article explores how a biotech company launched a project to upgrade the quality of malaria testing in Africa's rural areas by providing quality diagnostics for people who don't have convenient access to hospitals. The project is part of a US $1.2 billion program led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The article explains how the organization's project team first assesses a lab's testing systems and the skills of the people performing malaria diagnostics. It discusses how the language barrier was addressed by translating operating procedures and using a translator during all assessments and training sessions. It then overviews a mobile tool that was implemented by the company to keep up with current conditions on the ground and explains a quality-assurance database that the company developed. It looks at the challenges presented by the lack of infrastructure in the region and difficult travel between remote project sites. Since the project launch in June 2010, 100 lab staffers have been trained and certified on malaria microscopy and quality control at 16 lab sites across Tanzania.