For early detection and reporting of diseases, laboratories are most important and are most successful when structured into an integrated, multi-level network that allows for prompt access to suitable diagnostic tools. A framework/structured model for sample referral and transit across the network can reduce transfer stages and promote quick diagnosis, lowering late reporting of cases, particularly for new epidemics, as well as increasing safe and secure sample handling.
The Ghana Health Service faces a number of challenges with its Sample Referral System (SRS). Notable among them include lack of funds, inadequate logistics and human resource capacity, and other factors that impede the achievement of the intended objectives.
To assist the effective transfer of clinical specimens, Funds from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been channeled through the Centre of Health System Strengthening (CfHSS) to support the Ghana Health Service to reinforce sample referral system.
In view of this, CfHSS in collaboration with Ghana Health Service, and support from the US CDC has organized regional stakeholders meeting in Greater Accra region to have broader discussions on best possible strategies to have efficient and effective SRS, and a roadmap to implement Sample Referral Piloting in the coming weeks. The meeting was held on the 16th June 2022 at the Erata Hotel in Accra. Key participants were the Regional Deputy Director, Clinical Care, Head of the National Public Health and Reference Lab, Regional TB Coordinator, Regional Biomedical Scientist, Regional Transport Manager, GHSA Technical Advisor, District Directors, sub-metro in-charges, and heads of laboratories from the various selected facilities.
Presentations from Dr Farida Njelba Abdulai (GAR TB Coordinator) and Mr John Achana (GAR transportation officer) gave an overview of sample transportation and the transportation system within the region. There were also brief remarks from Dr Bernard Nkrumah, the CDC Global Security advisor and Dr. Gifty Boateng (NPHRL). The Executive director for CfHSS, Dr Michael Owusu also presented on the need for the region’s and Ghana’s sample referral processes to be greatly enhanced. Participants were then given the opportunity to outline the challenges and suggest possible remedies to make the operations of the system more efficient and effective.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the stakeholders declared their support for the upcoming pilot project on SRS and anticipate a sustainable referral system following the pilot and an expansion of the activity to all medical facilities in the region. A total of seventy-one (71) facilities have been selected to participate in the pilot study.