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Quality Assessment of Smear Microscopy for Acid Fast Bacilli in National External Quality Assessment Service for 2017-2018

Direct sputum smear microscopy still remains the most cost-effective tool for diagnosing patients with infectious tuberculosis and monitoring the progress of treatment. The World Health Organization global strategy to fight against tuberculosis relies on a network of laboratories that provide quality sputum microscopy service. Since both diagnosis and treatment monitoring depends on sputum microscopy, providing reliable smear result is pivotal. The reliable results can only be assured through the implementation of quality assurance program; National External Quality Assessment Service (NEQAS) which aims to assess the quality standard and implement improvement measures. NEQAS on sputum microscopy was started in 2005 with 28 District Hospital Laboratories in the network. It is a program whereby the national reference laboratory (NTRL, RCDC) monitors quality and results of AFB sputum microscopy centers in the district hospitals. NEQAS methods comprise of:
1. Panel testing
2. Blinded Rechecking
3. On-site evaluation
NEQAS on sputum microscopy network currently covers thirty-six district hospital laboratories providing sputum microscopy service in the country. Panel testing is conducted twice every year and Blinded rechecking is conducted every quarter for an entire year.
Report on QA of Smear Microscopy for Acid Fast Bacilli in NEQAS 2017-2018