In collaboration with IRESSEF, UNICEF HQ and UNICEF WCARO, IQLS facilitated a training workshop on 16 to 27 September 2019 in Saly, Senegal, on the topics of 1) national laboratory system strengthening and 2) the implementation of HIV early infant diagnosis and viral load point-of-care testing services in West and Central Africa. 

Training the first week was focused on strengthening national laboratory systems, with 11 government representatives present from the 10 project countries: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria. 

Training the second week focused on scaling up of point-of-care testing services and integration into paediatric, maternal, neonatal and infant care programs. UNICEF country offices HIV focal points joined this training.

Participants enjoyed a hands-on format, including presentations, work groups and case studies that were facilitated by a rich panel of experts were present from UNICEF, IRESSEF, EGPAF, UNAIDS, IRD, and WHO. Senior Lab Specialists Dr. Abdoulaye Nikièma and Obert Kachuwaire from IQLS were key facilitators.

During the two week sessions, it came to light that national laboratory systems face huge gaps and the region is lagging behind in terms of EID diagnosis and paediatric treatment. Participants agreed on a set of recommendations to address these challenges and help improve ongoing scale-up of HIV EID and VL. 

The next step will be to validate national operational plans with key stakeholders.