The $63 billion comprehensive global health initiative (GHI) emphasizes health systems strengthening (HSS) to tackle challenges, including child and maternal health, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and neglected tropical diseases. GHI and other initiatives are critical to fighting emerging and reemerging diseases in resource-poor countries. HSS is also an increasing focus of the $49 billion program of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Laboratory systems and services are often neglected in resource-poor settings, but the funding offers an opportunity to end the neglect. To sustainably strengthen national laboratory systems in resource-poor countries, the following approaches are needed: (1) developing integrative national laboratory strategic plans and policies and building systems to address multiple diseases; (2) establishing public-private partnerships; (3) ensuring effective leadership, commitment, and coordination by host governments of efforts of donors and partners; (4) establishing and/or strengthening centers of excellence and field epidemiology and laboratory training programs to meet short- and medium-term training and retention goals; and (5) establishing affordable, scalable, and effective laboratory accreditation schemes to ensure quality of laboratory tests and bridge the gap between clinicians and laboratory experts on the use of test results.
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