The Cameroonian government adopted last August 26 a national laboratory policy (NLP). According to information from the health department (Minsanté), this document presents the government’s vision of an efficient laboratory system capable of guaranteeing universal access to quality health services by 2030.
The lab policy is expected to be a “compass” for all lab activities in Cameroon. “A policy is adopted for regulation. There is a huge problem when actors in the sector do not even know what they have to do. And for partners, they need to have access to this document to clearly understand the government’s vision,” explains Solange Kouakap, inspector general of pharmaceutical services and laboratories at Minsanté. Until now, Cameroon has not had such a policy even though laboratory tests are critical for disease diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance, outbreak investigation, treatment initiation, and monitoring, as well as research and development.
"There was a gap in the regulatory framework. In the hierarchy of documents, we normally start with a policy. And from the policy, we move on to implementation, through strategic and operational documents, to improve the quality of laboratory services in the country," explains Dr. Diallo Samba, Senior Laboratory Advisor at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa (CDC Africa) and the African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM).
“This guide fills a big gap, defines the different directions, helps everyone meet the standard, and reduces many errors. The main objectives of the NLP are: to improve quality management in laboratories; strengthen the legal and institutional framework, and the operational capacity of laboratories; improve the financing of laboratory activities; and improvise the framework for research and cooperation,” according to the Cameroonian health ministry.
Experts believe that this essential tool will allow health authorities to have evidence and to be able, based on this evidence, to identify interventions to be put in place to improve or strengthen the laboratory system and network.