CONSULTANT – Development of a Regional Diagnostics and Laboratory Services Strategy

  • Salary:
  • Job type:
  • Posted:
    2 weeks ago
  • Category:
    Health / Medical
  • Deadline:
    December 9, 2022




  1. Background

Diagnostics and medical laboratory play a critical role in the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and control of diseases, as an essential and fundamental part of the healthcare services. However, reliable diagnostics including laboratory services continue to be limited in many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in the WHO/AFRO region.

Over the past twenty years, considerable effort was made for laboratory services development and strengthening in the AFRO region.  Significant results were obtained in terms of guidance and normative documents, new programmes (quality, biosafety, information systems), training of laboratory staff, equipment, provision of reagents and consumables, and support to disease control programmes. In 2008, after a relevant assessment of the situation, and recognizing the enhanced focus needed on laboratory systems, member states at the Fifty-eighth 58th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted Resolution AFR/RC58/R2 (9) “Strengthening public health laboratories in the WHO African Region: a critical need for disease control”, which underscores the urgent need to strengthen public health laboratories in the region, at all levels of the health care system. The Resolution called for major investments in strengthening national policy, capacity building, infrastructure development, including biosafety and biosecurity, integration of relevant services, such as supply management, improved quality systems, data management, and financing mechanisms that enhance the contributions of national health laboratory services to patient management and disease surveillance, prevention, and control, covering the full range of public health functions. It had guided the regional office work on Laboratory so far.

Imaging diagnostic, point-of-care tests (POCT), electrical diagnostics (such electrocardiogram or encephalogram) didn’t get such attention, even though very important and indispensable to healthcare and disease control.

Nowadays, the diagnostic context at the regional office and in the African region has evolved considerably and needs to consider some major aspects:

–      The Regional Director’s transformation agenda, with particular emphasis on integration of activities, increased inter-cluster collaboration, coordination at regional level and contribution to health systems development as a basis for the implementation of the PHC approach.

–      The increasing complexity, diversification, and new interest in areas of laboratory and other diagnostic work such as regulation, quality, biosafety/biosecurity, but also the growing importance of medical imaging, quality control of health products, point-of-care testing machines, rapid diagnostic tests, and many other diagnostics.

–      The increasing complexity of the health sector landscape, including the emergence of new regional and national actors that may have varying agendas, not always synergistic/complimentary to holistic approach, and thus leading to dispersion of solutions to diagnostics and laboratory issues.

–      The low level of implementation in countries of regional and global resolutions, strategies and programmes aimed at strengthening diagnostics and laboratory systems at the grassroots level and with the aim of contributing to and supporting health systems, appreciating the momentum and investments made within recent epidemics, pandemic, and other health events.

At a moment when in the context of the WHO thirteen general programme of work (GPW13) with its triple billions objectives, a renewed primary health care (PHC) strategy is defined to reach universal health coverage, diagnostics become crucial to deliver comprehensive health services to the populations. And diagnostics should be an integral part of health systems to ensure sustainable, integrated and quality health services.

Following GPW13, a new and specific unit for diagnostics and laboratory services (the DLS unit under the ARD Cluster) was created at WHO/AFRO, emphasizing the value of diagnostic and laboratory services in strengthening health system to achieve GPW13 strategic objectives. ARD/DLS mission is to provide countries with quality support for improved diagnostics and laboratory systems, using a more collaborative and integrated approach to achieve the goal of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Its objectives are to:

  1. a) Facilitate the strengthening of national regulatory authorities to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of diagnostics and laboratory technologies and to strengthen evidence-based selection and rational use of diagnostics and laboratory technologies;
  2. b) Support countries to develop or update, implement, monitor and evaluate national policies, strategies, plans and guidelines for improving access to quality diagnostics and laboratory services, including capacity building;
  3. c) Provide strategic directions and support for laboratory-based surveillance and control activities for communicable and non-communicable diseases for prevention, detection, investigation, monitoring and eradication, including support for the one-health approach and mainstreaming;
  4. d) Establish, support and coordinate diagnostics and laboratory networks across the region including sharing of best practices, training, and research purposes for the improvement and sustainability of laboratory quality and safety programmes;
  5. e) Implement global and regional strategies and programmes to promote, develop and expand access to biomedical engineering services, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostics;
  6. f) Facilitate and coordinate the implementation of laboratory-based interventions of all AFRO-endorsed strategies and programme; and
  7. g) Enable resource mobilization and engage partners in building capacity in the Region.

As such, this needs to be accompanied by a new, ambitious, and contextual implementation scheme. The new global context of diagnostic and laboratory presents with a new vision.

Based on the above, AFRO ARD Cluster have identified the need to define a regional strategy for the development of diagnostics and laboratory services for the period 2023-2032. The services of an individual consultant are therefore sought to support these processes.


Develop AFRO regional strategy for diagnostics and laboratory services that will guide the regional office work on diagnostics and laboratory services over the next ten years.

Scope of Work

The overarching scope of the assignment will entail taking stock of the current situation of diagnostics and laboratory services and systems in the region, AFRO new structure, and strategic orientations, the GPW13 and the global context on diagnostics and laboratory services and to develop AFRO regional strategy that is responsive to the health and health systems strengthening needs and aligns to the GPW13, the UCH and PHC.

The strategy will aim to address, among other things, variety of diagnostics including medical imaging, point-of-care tests and clinical, public health and quality control laboratory services, various components and elements of laboratory systems, coordination and integration of laboratory work at the regional office, including the clusters and programmes, staffing of the DLS unit and the MCATs, partnering and resource mobilization. The strategy content must include at least the situation analysis and justification; the strategy aim, objectives and targets; guiding principles; priority strategic interventions; roles and responsibilities of stakeholders; resource implications and monitoring and evaluation.

The key elements of the assignment are as follows:

  • Conduct a situational analysis of diagnostics and laboratory services in the WHO/AFRO region that will serve as the basis of the strategy.
  • Review relevant literature and programme documents to understand current context of diagnostics and laboratory services including: GPW13, AFRO new structure, missions and objectives, ARD Cluster and DLS Unit missions and objectives.
  • Conduct interview with relevant AFRO Clusters directors, team leads and technical / medical officers and diagnostics and laboratory professionals at WHO/HQ that are involved directly or not with diagnostics and laboratory services work in order to identify strengths, opportunities, weakness and threats on coordination, collaboration, integration and harmonization and limit duplications of activities.
  • Produce a report of the situational analysis.
  • Produce an advanced draft of WHO/AFRO regional diagnostics and laboratory services strategy.
  • Conduct technical consultation with relevant stakeholders and teams for enhanced buy-in
  • Provide technical advice and any other required support for the finalization of the report.
  1. Deliverables

The expected deliverables are:

  • Situation analysis – conduct a situational analysis on the status of laboratory and diagnostics (including imaging) services in the WHO/AFRO region that will serve as the basis of the strategy. The analysis will include an assessment on the current status of national laboratory systems and a stakeholder analysis of the laboratory networks, initiatives and hubs across countries in the region.
  • Strategy development – Develop a 10 years WHO/AFRO regional diagnostics and laboratory services strategy.  The strategy will integrate all areas of laboratory and diagnostic services including clinical laboratory services, medical imaging, public health and reference laboratories, quality control laboratories, anatomic-pathology laboratories, point-of-care tests, imaging and laboratory technology management including equipment maintenance, legislation and regulation, norms and standards amongst others.  The strategy will also be informed by strategic discussions with key stakeholders in the field of laboratory and diagnostics services and across the 3 levels of WHO.
  • Implementation framework –Develop the framework for the implementation of regional guidelines and protocols for diagnostics and laboratory services. The framework will also include an outline to support countries to adapt, contextualize and implement the guidelines and strategy.
  • Provide analysis of support to Strengthen Laboratory Capacity in the region –Identify the training needs/ gaps in the region and develop a training curriculum to strengthen capacity on the different components of diagnostics and laboratory services.  The training curriculum should also incorporate modules on the implementation of the Regional Diagnostics and laboratory strategy and opportunities for coordination, collaboration and harmonization of laboratory services in the region.

Provide guidance on promoting regional regulatory mechanisms on good laboratory services and practices, propose recommendations to strengthen coordination of laboratory policies and harmonization and develop initiatives to identify new priorities, tools, and technologies in the laboratory and diagnostics field.

  1. Qualifications, experience, skills and languages

Educational Qualifications

  • Essential:  Master’s level Medical degree or advanced degree in laboratory or health sciences.
  • Desirable: PhD in a health-related field is desirable.


  • A minimum of 10 years’ experience in diagnostics and laboratory services, developing strategy. Extensive experience working in Africa and Internationally, national and international work experience in diagnostics and laboratory.


  • Practical experience working in diagnostics and laboratory services

Skills and competencies

  • Knowledge of diagnostics and laboratory services in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Good skills and experience in scientific writing and reporting and delivering high-quality results within expected time frames.
  • Having worked with WHO and other international organizations will be an asset.
  • Ability to provide strategic guidance with respect to laboratories
  • Ability to write, document and demonstrated ability to publish


Excellent knowledge of spoken and written English is essential. Working knowledge of French or another UN language is an advantage.

  1. Technical Supervision

The selected consultant will work under the supervision of the Assistant Regional Director and the Diagnostics and Laboratory Team Lead

  1. Location

On site for insurance purposes (Home-based with duty travel at WHO AFRO, Brazzaville). Sixty working days are allocated to the work. Five to ten (5-10) days will consist of establishing and reporting on the current situation of diagnostics and laboratory services in the region. At least 20 days will be spent at the regional office in Brazzaville, for interviews with the appropriate persons (Management and experts) in the office. The rest of time will be home-based-work for draft document development. The consultant will have to travel from his/her official place of residence to Brazzaville.

  1. Remuneration 
  • Monthly rate at Band C level (P5).
  • Expected duration: 2 months.

Additional Information :

  • This vacancy notice may be used to identify candidates for other similar consultancies at the same level.
  • Only candidates under serious consideration will be contacted.
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