CAP-Malaria supports Cambodian MOH to develop the first standard operating procedures for malaria microscopy quality assurance

The new SOPs (cover pictured here) provide guidelines for laboratories nationwide on conducting quality microscopy for malaria diagnosis.The Cambodian Ministry of Health published its first National Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) for Malaria Microscopy Quality Assurance in May. The SOPs were developed with support from URC, which has worked closely with the National Malaria Center (CNM) through the USAID Malaria Control in Cambodia (MCC) and subsequent Control and Prevention of Malaria (CAP-Malaria) projects.

An accurate malaria diagnosis is critical to effective treatment, and microscopic examination remains the "gold standard" for laboratory confirmation of malaria. However, test results are only as reliable as the laboratories performing the tests. In 2009, CNM and MCC introduced quality assurance measures in the project’s target areas to ensure that the quality standards were being met, beginning with preparation of blood smears to staining and examination. Routine cross-checking of slides, quarterly workshops on microscopy quality assurance at the local level, and supportive supervision culminated in improved quality during the project period.

The new SOPs, published in Khmer, build on that MCC experience and provide guidelines for laboratories nationwide on conducting quality microscopy. They describe the responsibilities of laboratory staff at the central, provincial, hospital, and health center levels, as well as those of supervisors and cross-checkers. Different chapters in the publication cover supervision, slide cross-checking, quarterly meetings, reporting, and training. Tools include a checklist for supervisory visits, slide collection sheet for cross-checking, and a cross-checking feedback form.

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