Recent Activities - 2016

September 2016: Myanmar FIND Project

NRL concluded its project with the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) with a visit to Myanmar from 19-29 September 2016. During this visit, Marlene Tschaepe and Susie Braniff from NRL conducted training workshops in Mandalay and Yangon, as well as a stakeholder meeting to wrap up the project. NRL’s project with FIND was part of a Cooperative Agreement between FIND and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Two-day HIV Point of Care Testing (POCT) Workshops were held in both Mandalay and Yangon for midwives, lab technicians, township health nurses and medical technicians. Workshop participants had the opportunity to refresh their training on specimen collection, test interpretations and quality management of POCT sites. Topics included safety, waste disposal, equipment maintenance and staff competency assessment. Both workshops were followed up with a 1-day Training of Trainers (TOT) session for township health nurses and trainers from the National AIDS program, the National Health Laboratory and Mandalay Public Health Laboratory. The TOT programme was designed to support ongoing HIV POCT training by local staff in Myanmar, based on the training programme developed and piloted by NRL this year.

The final QMS Training Workshop took the form of a 2-day internal audit practical session with participants at both the Mandalay and Yangon sites designing, performing and writing reports for an internal audit of the document control system in their laboratories. The participants were able to effectively put into practice the theory they had learned during the previous QMS Training Workshops and the NATA Internal Audit Training they attended in Melbourne. As a result Mandalay Public Health Laboratory, Mandalay General Hospital and the National Health Laboratory have all identified improvement opportunities and action plans to strengthen their quality management systems.

On September 29 2016, NRL reported on the outcomes of the activities conducted during the project at a wrap-up stakeholders’ meeting hosted by the National Health Laboratory. Key members from the National AIDS program and the Myanmar laboratory network were in attendance, along with representatives from international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) working in-country to deliver HIV POCT. During the meeting NRL received valuable feedback on the activities delivered during the year, and was able to contribute to the discussion on priorities going forward to continue strengthening of HIV testing services in Myanmar.

NRL would like to convey its appreciation to all parties who have worked with us to ensure a smooth delivery of project outcomes, namely colleagues at FIND HQ in Geneva, Dr Khin Zaw Latt (FIND Myanmar), CDC Myanmar and CDC Atlanta. NRL would also like to thank colleagues from the National AIDS Programme and the National Health Laboratory in Myanmar, as well as all trainees and those who have been involved in the project in one way or another, for their enthusiasm and dedication, as well as kindness and hospitality during our visits to Myanmar. We hope to be able to continue our work in Myanmar in the future.

This project has been supported by The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under the terms of Cooperative Agreement Number 3U2GPS002746.

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NRL is designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnostics and Laboratory Support for HIV and AIDS and Other Blood-borne Infections