groups » Laboratories discussion group » What are the biggest challenges for Laboratory Microbiology in the tropics?
Hi, what do you consider the greatest challenges in running or working in a microbiology laboratory in the tropics? Give me your views and let's see if we can share experience and approaches. Best wishes, Susie
There are quite a number of challenges facing microbiology in the tropics,just to mention a few
1. Inappropriate funds allocation
2.Poor infrastrusture for proper and upto standard laboratory operations.
3.Lack of proper guidelines on day to day emerging issue in the field
Well, this is a very good topic
1 Laboratories challenges in tropics largely are caused by lack of resources such as equipment and reagents due to poor governments policies and considerations on infectious diseases especially those caused by bacteria. They will prefer rapid tests for malaria and HIV or any viral and parasitic diseases than culture and sensitivity on bacteria. The rapid tests are good but they hinder concentration of clinicians if there are some co-infections hence clinicians just treat empirically by using the work "cover on antibiotics" with concentration on rapid test results. without further microbiological investigations on infections.
2. Usual business is killing laboratories in that those who are working in these places have been employed to the place and are not transferred to other places allowing new faces to come in. If you can train these people in microbiology they will practices just for a while then will turn to their usual business once the motivation is removed.
3. Funding for microbiology is inadequate in tropical countries as most funds are directed towards global activities like HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria etc preventions than laboratory.
4. Another challenge in glowing resistance to antimicrobial as laboratories are under pressure to find drugs that could be sensitive to increasing superbugs
5. Infrastructure is another challenge such that microbiology lab are mostly departments in a main laboratory. To my opinion the microbiology lab should be an independent lab so that there could be a showcase in microbiology activities.
6 Standard Treatment Guidelines advocates clinical management of infections using empirical treatment which encourage clinicians not to look or wait for laboratory investigations, The STGs should be updated to encourage clinicians to wait or look for lab results despite patients improvements on antimicrobial treatment.
The list is endless
We all know that qualities of a good microbiology laboratories are having good equipments, availabilities of well trained staffs, a good and equiped laboratory. But here in the tropics, some of the challenges for laboratory Microbiology are as follows:
- Lack of well trained staffs. In some Laboratories in the tropics, they are no avaialability of well trained staffs to manage the laboratory
-Lack of good equipments like the autoclave, lack of sponsor/funds to carryout research programs
- No standard operating procedures. Most Laboratories operate with no standard operating procedures hence poor quality assurance in the Laboratory
Lack of capacity building as the global health priority diseases are given enough resource
1.Under equip/ lack of equipments to handle microorganisms
2.Under trained personnel
3.Lack of funds
I believe the fundamental problem is shortage of funds. The shortage of funds permits other factors that could negatively impact the deliverables expected of the microbiology department .
There are many challenges working in the tropics as a laboratory professional. If you have a senior colleague in the lab then its good for you to learn continuously otherwise you will forget what you had learnt.
Inadequate funding, lack of continuing medical laboratory education, poor status of the profession, no career growth, very poor benefits. In many resource poor countries there are no national bodies representing health laboratory professionals, no journals & magazines to highlight the issues, raise the importance of laboratory components in national health care. Lots of things to be done to encourage lab professionals to work in the tropics particularly to work in remote, rural & with vulnerable group of communities. I have spent more than 2 decades as health laboratory professional and worked with isolated, remote and vulnerable group of people in Pakistan, Afghanistan & Tajikistan. I am looking forward to such organizations, professionals to come forward for possible networking to provide quality assured laboratory services to those where its in high demand.
The biggest challenge faced by microbiology laboratories in this part of the globe is inadequate funding. This impacts negatively on reagents and materials available for use in most of our labs.
Non availability of control organisms and reagents,poor power supply not allowing for optimal incubation of pathogens.
Policy makers also do not staff most of our laboratories adequately.
I think Information on Biosecurity and Biopreparedness is not available to most of the microbiologists.
Some of the biggest problems confronting the work of microbiology laboratory in tropical zones:
1. lack of microbiology related equipment; i.e autoclaves, incubators, Co2 cylinders etc
2. staff not comfortable with manual procedures when other sections of the lab are automated
3. lack of infrastructure to support carrying out of microbiology test
Some of the biggest problems confronting the work of microbiology laboratory in tropical zones.
1.Lack of well trained and competent staffs in the department
2.Lack or insufficiency number of protective equipments.Most microbiology laboratory that work with infectious agents lack protective equipments which compel most of the staffs to show less commitment towards the work.
3.People in high authorities show less concern towards the departmet.For instance when reagents get finish, it will take longer period before they will provide you some which is confusing and slow down the work.
4.lack of incentive to moltivate the staffs.
Just to list a few of the greatest challenges in running microbiology laboratories in the tropical countries are,
1.Inadequate formal training for microbiology department staff.
2.Scarcity of resources to run the program
3.Negligence of the few trained staff due to insufficient motivation, they tend to care less about the services.
These are the ones I have observed, what do say about them.
Well, where to start, the list is so long!? But top of the list for me is always quality assurance, including using appropriate controls for everything you do. Of course this is not a uniquely tropical problem, but since it is rare for laboratories in many tropical countries to be part of a formal accreditation scheme, in my experience this is the most important thing to encourage. Resources are always scarce and it is sad to see them wasted doing tests that cannot be relied on because quality has not been adequately assured. There is specimen quality as well, especially since samples can deteriorate so quickly at tropical temperatures. But how many of us actually reject specimens that we know full well are probably not worth testing? Then there is the difficulty of ensuring adequate consumable supplies and appropriate maintenance and calibration of equipment. Those are my top 3 - what do others think?