Original Research

Newly implemented community CD4 service in Tshwaragano, Northern Cape province, South Africa, positively impacts result turn-around time

Lindi-Marie Coetzee, Naseem Cassim, Deborah K. Glencross
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 11, No 1 | a1376 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v11i1.1376 | © 2022 Lindi-Marie Coetzee, Naseem Cassim, Deborah K. Glencross | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 September 2020 | Published: 03 June 2022

About the author(s)

Lindi-Marie Coetzee, National Priority Programme, National Health Laboratory Service, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Naseem Cassim, National Priority Programme, National Health Laboratory Service, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Deborah K. Glencross, National Priority Programme, National Health Laboratory Service, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest province with an HIV prevalence of 7.1% versus a 13.5% national prevalence. CD4 testing is provided at three of five National Health Laboratory Service district laboratories, each covering a 250 km precinct radius. Districts without a local service report prolonged CD4 turn-around times (TAT).

Objective: This study documented the impact of a new CD4 laboratory in Tshwaragano in the remote John Taolo Gaetsewe district of the Northern Cape, South Africa.

Methods: CD4 test volumes and TAT (total, pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical) data for the Northern Cape province were extracted for June 2018 to October 2019. The percentage of CD4 results within the stipulated 40-h TAT cut-off and the median and 75th percentiles of all TAT parameters were calculated. Pre-implementation, samples collected at Tshwaragano were referred to Kimberley or Upington, Northern Cape, South Africa.

Results: Pre-implementation, 95.4% of samples at Tshwaragano were referred to Kimberley for CD4 testing (36.3% of Kimberley’s test volumes). Only 7.5% of Tshwaragano’s total samples were referred post-implementation. The Tshwaragano laboratory’s CD4 median total TAT decreased from 24.7 h pre-implementation to 12 h post-implementation (p = 0.003), with > 95.0% of results reported within 40 h. The Kimberley laboratory workload decreased by 29.0%, and testing time significantly decreased from 10 h to 4.3 h.

Conclusion: The new Tshwaragano CD4 service significantly decreased local TAT. Upgrading existing community laboratories to include CD4 testing can alleviate provincial service load and improve local access, TAT and efficiency in the centralised reference laboratory.


Keywords

CD4 testing; district laboratory; turn-around-time; immunology; HIV; operational science

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