Held from June 10 to 14 in Port Moresby, the External Competence Assessment of Malaria Microscopists is WHO-endorsed to ensure a high standard of malaria diagnosis using a microscope in Papua New Guinea.
The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby says participants came from nine provinces across the country, with all gaining competence levels, which are valid for three years.
Debra Ruffunduo, 29, from West Sepik Provincial Hospital was the youngest and top performing participant during the course. Certified as a level one microscopist, the highest-ranking level, she may now provide training and supervision to other malaria microscopists to support the National Malaria Control Program.
"I'm excited to go back and train other microscopists in my hospital, as I've been so privileged to have attended the course, and be assessed and certified," Ruffunduo said.
According to a recent WHO report, PNG accounted for more than 80% of confirmed malaria cases in the Western Pacific Region in 2017. While rapid diagnostic tests on human blood are becoming more widely used and accepted in PNG, microscopy is still heavily relied upon for diagnosis of the species and how heavy the infection is.
Lieutenant-colonel Ken Lilley from the ADFMIDI has been facilitating training and assessments in PNG and around the world for over 30 years as part of a global strategy to strengthen laboratory capacity.
"Participants have learned how to detect and identify malaria parasite characteristics in blood samples under a microscope, which is needed for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment," Lilley said.
"The course covers all aspects of malaria microscopy based on standardised instruction for new laboratory technicians and a refresher for previously certified technicians."
The assessment course was supported by the governments of Australia, China and PNG through the Trilateral Malaria Project. Two assessments are supported each year through the project, and the next one will be in November 2019.