The CIDRZ Central Laboratory at Kalingalinga Health Center is among the busiest and most sophisticated laboratories in the region. It provides free services for more than 252,000 patients a year in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka and its surrounding communities. Over the past five years, the laboratory has doubled its output every 24 months. We currently perform almost a million tests a year, including 176,000 CD4 tests, 180,000 full blood counts, 135,000 liver function tests, 145,000 kidney function tests, and 12,000 viral loads a year in service of our PEPFAR-funded HIV care and treatment program.
The laboratory also provides infant HIV diagnosis (via HIV DNA PCR) for three of Zambia’s nine provinces, in support of the national Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) program’s efforts to increase the number of children accessing HIV care and treatment. We are one of three labs providing this service for all of Zambia. Currently we perform about 1500 of these tests per month.
We support the rapidly growing CIDRZ tuberculosis research priorities, and we are working closely with the Ministry of Health National TB Program on a number of TB related research projects. TB research requires specialized laboratory competence and this capacity has been built at the CIDRZ Central Laboratory. The complete spectrum of TB based tests (smear microscopy, culture, species identification and drug susceptibility testing, as well as capacity for molecular testing) have been implemented and validated in our Microbiology lab. Currently the TB Lab has the capacity to perform 6,000 to 7,000 liquid and solid cultures per year.
Specialists from the CIDRZ Central Lab support a large network of rural clinic labs, procuring and maintaining equipment, supplying reagents, training staff, and providing ongoing quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC). We also assist remote clinics with transport logistics to deliver specimens to the closest referral laboratory and return results to the clinic.
As a research laboratory with projects funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the CIDRZ Central Lab participates in rigorous external monitoring processes. NIH Division of AIDS-sanctioned Standard Operating Procedures are in place for all laboratory procedures, and QA/QC technologists monitor all aspects of quality, ensuring adherence to protocol, overseeing quarterly proficiency testing on all instruments, and implementing recommendations from external monitors. We are accredited by Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) audit for DAIDS and have received excellent ratings for our last two accreditation audits.