Of all the regions of the World, Africa is lagging considerably behind when it comes to the availability of health personnel. Africa’s health human resource problems take various forms, including overall scarcity, inequitable distribution and poor performance. Governments across Africa with support from development partners are stepping up efforts to strengthen the health workforce, building on the growing evidence base that shows an important link between the number of health workers and both service delivery and health outcomes.
To date, focus has been on doctors and nurses, leaving out a large number of other cadres critical to the delivery of health services. These are the “under- recognized” cadres in the health sector that include: health systems managers, health information specialists, social welfare workers, community health workers, pharmacists, supply chain management professionals, and laboratory personnel. All the above cadres, by virtue of their work, are important for the effective delivery of health services and an integral–but neglected– part of the health system.
Laboratory personnel are one of the key under- recognized cadres. Shortages of qualified laboratory technicians, inadequate training opportunities, and a skewed distribution are common problems hindering the efficient delivery of lab services across sub-Saharan Africa. There is an urgent need for recognition of the vital role of laboratory personnel, as human resources are the backbone of quality diagnostics.
The EAPHLN project is now doing a lot in order to have the laboratory personnel be recognised in the health system this includes capacity building, empowerment at lower levels and advocacy of importance of laboratories and the laboratory personnel terminology being properly defined.