The National External Quality Assessment Scheme for Diagnostic Medical Parasitology in the Philippines, 2009–2015

Sherwin Galit, Dave Tangcalagan, Julius Matt Rapanut, Alexander Sadiasa, Prince Ninja Bautista, Kim Joshua Dominguez, Jahra Bañaga, Celine Bernice Roxas, Rafael Navarro, Mark Philip Bugayong, Jennifer Luchavez, Melisa Mondoy, Lydia Sombrero, Socorro Lupisan

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

 

            The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)–National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Malaria and Other Parasites, mandated by the Department of Health–Philippines (DOH), administers an annual Proficiency Test (PT) in diagnostic medical parasitology to clinical laboratories throughout the Philippines through the National External Quality Assessment Scheme (NEQAS). The PT in Parasitology aims to monitor and evaluate the capability of Philippine laboratories in the identification of blood and intestinal parasites, and the estimation of malaria parasite density in malaria-infected blood films. As of 2018, participation in the NEQAS is an annual requirement by the Department of Health–Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau (DOH-HFSRB) for each clinical laboratory to obtain a license to operate. This report aims to summarize the results of the PT for Parasitology and assess the performance of participating laboratories in malaria and fecal parasite microscopy from 2009 to 2015.

 

METHODOLOGY

 

            RITM–NRL oriented clinical laboratories in the NEQAS in 2008. Laboratories submitted their accomplished enrolment forms to RITM–NRL and paid fees to enroll in the PT in 2009 to 2015. Participating laboratories identified the species of malaria in blood films and the parasite/s in formalin-preserved fecal specimens. Estimation of parasite density in malaria blood films was performed as well.

 

RESULTS

 

            One thousand five hundred forty laboratories participated in 2009 to 2015. Mean and median scores in all seven years were below the cut-off score of 80. Schistosoma japonicum was the most difficult to identify with  only 7.7% of laboratories having correct identification result.  Majority of participants in 2010 to 2014 gave malaria parasite density estimates outside the acceptable range.

 

CONCLUSION

 

            Microscopy requires skill that is honed through training and refresher courses in order to enhance and maintain the quality of performance of laboratorians in diagnostic parasitology.

Keywords

laboratory proficiency testing, medical parasitology, malaria, helminthiasis, protozoan infections

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