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My secondment is hosted by the Royal College of Pathologists, underwork package 3. Improving laboratory diagnosis and quality assurance systems for population screening.

It began with an introduction at the College.  I remember the first day like it were yesterday.  I met with members of the International Team and other staff.  I even had the pleasure of meeting Dr Maadh Aldouri, Clinical Director for International Activities.  I felt very welcomed.

The days that followed I undertook eLearning that covered some fundamental aspects of laboratory skills such as external and internal quality control and control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) to name a few.

In addition to this I have been able to enhance my knowledge in topics covering essential skills, such as general data protection regulations (GDPR), bullying and harassment and equality and diversity.  I have learnt a great deal from exploring these important subjects and look forward to being able to share my knowledge with colleagues by providing step-down training on my return to the laboratory in Kafanchan.

In March I joined Yvonne Daniel and her very professional and friendly team in the laboratory at Guys and St Thomas’, where I was able to observe the practical elements of a haemoglobinopathy laboratory from a UK viewpoint.   I learnt how to do solubility tests, observed how a daily maintenance on the Bio-Rad analyser for HPLC is carried out and saw how quality control for HPLC is done before the samples are analysed, besides more.

This experience has allowed me to identify possible changes that could be made to our own processes in the laboratory in Kafanchan to help improve our ways of working and contribute to achieving the aims of the ARISE project.

It’s not only the professional aspects of this secondment that have been an interesting experience.  Travelling on the underground and getting use to the busy rush hour took some getting used to, but I’m pleased to say I’m now much more confident finding my way around.  This has enabled me to help secondees who arrived after me to discover some of what London has to offer, such as Spitalfields and Colombia Road Flower Markets.

I would like to thank the ARISE Team and The Royal College of Pathologists for an opportunity that at one time I could only have dream of.

Do you catch yourself sometimes wondering about what it would be like to travel on an air plane to another country?  How it would feel to be gliding through the clouds in a moving machine to a place where new experiences await you?

I can relate to that because that was me, before my work as a laboratory scientist opened up the opportunity for me to travel to the UK Arise (African Research and Innovative Initiative for sickle cell education) is a research project which is funded by the European union  in the framework and it is into Newborn screening diagnosis and treatment of SCD (early diagnosis and appropriate treatment),implementing eHealth technologies to support Newborn screening in African countries including Lebanon.

Newborn screening is one of the largest population based genetic screening. The early detection of treatable, inherited disorder is a major public responsibility.  Newborn screening for sickle cell disease (SCD) enables early identification, referral and treatment of babies.  The programme helps to improve their health and prevent severe disability and even untimely death.  SCD is a condition that affects the quality of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is contained in the red blood cells which is responsible for carrying oxygen round the body. People with sickle cell disease produce red cells that changes shape and become rigid when Haemoglobin (Hb) is deoxygenated. The usually sickled shaped cells block small blood vessels thereby reducing supply of blood to that part of the body resulting to episodes of severe pain called sickle cell crises.

Enhancement of SCD management through training in molecular diagnostic technique and genetic counselling for haemoglobinopathies ,training and support for clinical research and staff exchange which I happen to be a beneficiary ,I’m sent to Up for a 3 month secondment as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. My visit to the UK is to become conversant with the international best practice of improving laboratory diagnosis and quality management system being practiced.

The Newborn screening program began in Kaduna state in the Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa memorial Hospital laboratory Kafanchan, Kaduna state.   is doing it’s best in processing the blood spot samples using the Iso electric focusing(IEF) machine provided for that purpose. At this moment, a lot of awareness has to be created through multimedia, social media and other strategies according to the local stake-holders because a lot of people seem not to understand the importance of knowing their genotype status, the importance of genetic counselling in couples at risk in a situation where both partners are carriers of sickle cell. I happen to meet a couple who visited the hospital with their 1 year old baby with a low Hb level and complained that the child cries a lot at night which usually disturb their sleep, I asked the parents do they know their child’s genotype? They replied that both of them are AA, but I advised them to have a blood genotype test for the baby base on the symptoms the baby presents. The test was conducted and result turned to be SS.I went further to advise the parents to have a retest of their blood samples which resulted to both partners being AS.The baby was transfused with blood, when her condition became stable she was enrolled into the SCD clinic all pains were gone and the parents were well informed about the condition of their child.

The outcome of this project will improve the quality of laboratory services in diagnosis and treatment of patients which is an essential part of quality improvement. The quality of Laboratory services is becoming a critical element at every level of health care delivery. Poor quality services lead to misdiagnosis, wrong treatment and wastage. The Newborn screening project will help in the early diagnosis and improve the life of people living with SCD through early intervention and provide hope for them to live well with the condition.