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Cost challenges for laboratory medicine automation in Africa

African Field Epidemiology Network
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  • Medicine


Automation in laboratory medicine is inevitable and the only way forward especially in Africa where the staff turnover is high due to migration of experienced staff to Europe and America. Described here are the common issues that laboratory Managers and Directors encounter when upgrading, replacing analytical systems as well as daily running of diagnostic laboratories. The rapid advancement driven by the first world where research facilities, resources and expertise are available has seen changes in the both the hardware and software utilised by analyzers every two to three years. The downside is that in the process of replacing/phasing out old analysers, the first world countries in some cases donate them to second and third world countries as refurbished analysers. Problems in obtaining spares ensue since the production of new analysers results in reduced production or even of old spares. Unavailability or delayed availability of spares results in suspension of diagnostic service by the recipient laboratory. In some areas costly modifications to the analysers or the location/building have had to done to suite local (African) conditions, hence the need for Laboratory managers to understand fully the analysers’ operational requirements before purchasing or accepting donations.

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