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Title: Laboratory Systems and Public Health in Resource-Limited Settings (LAB-SPHERE)- Not offered in 2023
Keywords: Public Health
Health systems
Disease prevention, control and elimination
Communicable diseases
Country: Germany
Institution: Germany - Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM)
Course coordinator: Dr Daniela Fusco
About duration and dates: The course covers a period of 2 weeks, in which students engage full-time in face-to-face teaching and learning activities, including lectures, individual- and group-based practical sessions
Classification: advanced optional
Mode of delivery: Face to face
Course location:
Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM)
Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 74
20359 Hamburg
Tel: +49 40 42818 243

tropEd representative: Dewi Ismajani Puradiredja
ECTS credit points: 3 ECTS credits
90 SIT (incl. 51 hours lectures/contact time + 27.5 hours group-based assignment + 10 hours of self-directed learning + 1.5 hour individual assessed assignment)
Language: English
At the end of this module the student should be able to:

i. Develop strategies to build sustainable laboratory systems in limited-resource settings (i.e. low and middle income countries, rural areas, remote regions) based on a combination of clinical, social and operational research methods
ii. Design a holistic implementation plan for new diagnostic approaches within the context of public health in limited-resource settings taking into consideration the multidisciplinarity of public health (i.e. medicine, socio-anthropological sciences, biology and epidemiology)
iii. Assess key concepts of laboratory services within the context of health services and systems and in response to humanitarian emergencies
iv. Explain elements of the laboratory management system, differentiating between different types of laboratories (e.g. diagnostic, research, and reference laboratories)
v. Demonstrate awareness of the relevance interdisciplinary
cooperation across the fields of laboratory medicine, medical sciences and public health in response to infectious disease threats, natural disasters, war and conflict, and other humanitarian emergencies
Assessment Procedures:
- Individual written assignment: 1.5 hour – multiple choice question-based exam (60%)

In order to assess LOs iii, iv

- Group assignment: oral presentation on the implementation of a diagnostic strategy in a fictional setting (40%)

In order to assess LOs i, ii, v

If a student fails to reach the pass grade of 60%, s/he will be provided with a re-sit written essay-based assignment (ca. 1500-2000 words) to be submitted 3 weeks after receiving the assessment results.

Well-functioning and sustainable laboratory services are key components of strong health systems and crucial for improving public health and research capacities of countries. This course aims at describing the role of laboratory systems in strengthening health services and research capacity with a special focus on low and middle-income countries (LMIC). The emphasis is on explaining the structure and functions of laboratory systems and their effective and efficient management. Moreover, areas where laboratory systems overlap and/or complement are being considered.

Topics to be covered include:
• Introduction to laboratory systems
• Elements of public health as applied to laboratory systems
• Development of laboratory strategic plans at national, regional, local and mobile levels
• The role of reference laboratories in the management of infectious diseases
• Laboratory management systems, including concepts of biosafety and biosecurity
• The role of diagnostic vs. research laboratories
• Vertical laboratory system approaches (e.g. blood banking)
• Epidemiological methods as applied within the context of laboratory systems (e.g. surveillance methodologies, evaluation of diagnostic tools)
• Qualitative research methods and socio-anthropological aspects of laboratory medicine
• Interdisciplinary communication strategies
Teaching methods will include lectures (60%), individual- and group-based practical sessions, including case study table top exercises, field operational and biosafety/biosecurity training elements (30%), as well as problem solving exercises (10%).
No previous formal training in laboratory science and/or medicine is required. However, students should have either a basic training in public health or the diagnosis of infectious diseases. The course is intensive and a strong command of the English language equivalent to English TOEFL test 550 or 213 computer-based or 79/80 internet-based or IELTS band 6.0 is essential.
25 (max. 15 tropEd students)
LAB-SPHERE strives to have a diverse student group. Selection criteria include:

- Time of submission of application
- Motivational statement
- Previous professional and academic experience
- Country of origin (low, middle or high income country)
- tropEd student status
General admission: 1100 €/900 € (early bird registration*)

tropEd students and applicants from low and middle-income countries: 800 €/600 € (early bird registration*)
* early bird registration = within 2 weeks after acceptance
Participants from low and middle-income countries can apply for an Ortrud Mührer Travel Grant. For more details and the application form, please contact:
tropEd accreditation:
First accredited at Online tropEd GA (“Hamburg”), June 2020. This accreditation is valid until June 2025.
Remarks: Students will have access to the BNITM virtual learning environment (Moodle). The Moodle-based Lab-SPHERE course room will be the main means of communication with the group and for sharing key course-related information and training materials, such as lecture handouts.

Recommended readings include:
Mugambi, Melissa Latigo et al. “How to implement new diagnostic products in low-resource settings: an end-to-end framework.” BMJ global health vol. 3,6 e000914. 16 Nov. 2018, doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2018-000914
- McNerney, Ruth. “Diagnostics for Developing Countries.” Diagnostics (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 5,2 200-9. 19 May. 2015, doi:10.3390/diagnostics5020200
Email Address:
Date Of Record Creation: 2020-09-21 05:22:50 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2020-09-21 10:35:41 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2021-11-10 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2023-04-17 14:59:22 (W3C-DTF)

Fifteen years of the tropEd Masters in International Health programme: what has it delivered? Results of an alumni survey of masters students in international health

L. Gerstel1, P. A. C. Zwanikken1, A. Hoffman2, C. Diederichs3, M. Borchert3 and B. Peterhans2

1 Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
3 Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health, Charite – Universit€atsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany