The World Health Organization recommends the DOTS strategy for tuberculosis (TB) control which has been adopted by many National Tuberculosis Programmes (NTPs). An effective TB control programme depends upon laboratories providing accurate, reliable, and timely detection of TB cases. Majority of smear positive cases that are infectious are detected with direct smear microscopy. Therefore, assuring high quality direct smear microscopy is the responsibility of TB control programmes and Ministries of Health working in partnership to provide training, support, and ongoing monitoring of testing in all levels of laboratories.
Acid-Fast Microscopy involves highly technical procedures and should follow standard methods developed by the international organizations.
Recognizing that effective training is an important component of every NTP, WHO convened a workgroup with representatives from WHO, CDC, RIT, IUATLD, and APHL to develop standard materials that all countries could use to improve their training efforts.
Effective training for AFB direct smear microscopy requires a laboratory workshop that includes practical exercises with classroom presentations and discussions of the challenges and solutions for common problems. Therefore, these training materials are designed as a "workshop in a box" that includes all the presentations, exercises, and step by step guidance for convening and conducting a 4-5 day practical laboratory workshop. Implementation of this training will require a coordinated effort between the NTP and key partners to review, customize and adapt the materials to reflect the technical procedures and policies within each country.