Improving biological diagnosis in Africa: Quality Assurance in Bacteriology

Posted on August 2, 2021   by Dr Victorien Dougnon

In this blog, Microbiology Society Champion Victorien Dougnon discusses the webinar “Quality Assurance in Bacteriology” which took place in May 2021 and had over 100 participants. 

Quality assurance in the laboratory has recently gained interest in the health field, particularly with a view to improving the quality of biological diagnosis. On 28 May, 2021, the Microbiology Society in partnership with the Research Unit in Microbiology and Pharmacology of Natural Substances (URMAPha), the American Society for Microbiology, CERADIS and PSR Finland organised a webinar via the Zoom platform on the topic ‘’Quality Assurance in Bacteriology’’.  

This webinar aimed to strengthen the knowledge and skills of laboratory professionals on quality assurance in bacteriology. The event was organised by Dr Victorien Dougnon, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology, Champion of Microbiology Society and Country Ambassador of American Society for Microbiology. 

Why is it important to strengthen the skills of biologists on quality assurance in bacteriology? 

Biological diagnosis supports clinical diagnosis and contributes to better patient care. An erroneous biological diagnosis can lead to the implementation of an inappropriate treatment, which can lead to serious medical errors. Consequently, special attention must be paid to quality in bacteriology. In Africa, many challenges remain in the field of quality assurance in bacteriology. Quality assessment and quality control are almost non-existent in many African countries, which is a major flaw in the health system. It is useful to strengthen the skills of biologists on quality assurance in bacteriology to improve biological diagnosis in laboratories.  

Participants with diverse profiles 

The enthusiasm shown by the applicants, following the launch of the call for applications, expresses a real need for strengthening in the field of quality assurance in bacteriology. More than 250 applications to attend were received, but only 100 participants were selected based on their qualifications and motivation to attend the event. Participants from Benin, Burkina-Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, Togo, Mexico and Canada attended. 

Quality assurance in bacteriology was explored from several angles based on the World Health Organization (WHO) standards 

Quality assurance in bacteriology is a very complex and vast subject, which cannot be studied in depth in two hours. However, medical biologist Ernest Gbaguidi took on this challenge by focusing on some fundamental aspects of quality assurance. The course covered the basics of quality assurance, the importance of quality assurance in bacteriology, the quality criteria to be considered and quality control and quality assessment in bacteriology. First, a conceptual clarification established that "Quality assurance is the sum of all activities in which the laboratory is engaged to ensure that test results are of good quality. Quality assurance must be complete, rational, regular, and frequent. The issue of clinical test results was also discussed, as a result must be reliable, reproducible, and rapid. The two types of quality assurance: internal (specific to each laboratory continuous quality control of the tests) and external (control by an internal organisation; periodic quality control of the tests) were discussed. According to the communicator, the implementation of quality assurance is therefore imperative in view of the current challenges in terms of antimicrobial resistance and emerging pathologies. The participants appreciated this moment of knowledge sharing and skill building. They expressed the need to organise another edition addressing other aspects of quality assurance in microbiology and other areas of health.