NTRL conducts 1st TOT on Sputum Smear Microscopy of 2023
The eleven (11) SM-TOT graduates with NTRL-LDS Training Coordinators

The National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL), through its Learning and Development Section (LDS) conducted its first Training of Trainers on Sputum Smear Microscopy (SM-TOT) of the year last March 20-24 at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

TB Microscopy or colloquially called Sputum Smear Microscopy (SSM) is a cost-effective tool for diagnosing patients with TB. Simple, rapid, and inexpensive, SSM remains to play a vital role in TB laboratory testing and supplements initial TB laboratory diagnostics to patients in cases when Xpert TB testing is not available.

“SSM’s primary role in the current algorithm is for follow-up testing especially for the programmatic management of drug-resistant TB (PMDT). Currently, only SSM and TB culture are used to monitor treatment and SSM has a significantly shorter turnaround time compared to TB culture,” said NTRL-LDS Head Mr. Louis Olazo as he explained the value of SSM in the TB algorithm.

In fact, SSM is the only laboratory test routinely used by the TB Program in the whole course of monitoring the treatment progress of a TB patient.

According to NTRL LDS Training Coordinator Ms. Arcdel Urcia, NTRL’s goal is to ensure that each region has its own cadre of trainers who are capable of conducting SSM trainings that adhere to quality training standards being implemented by the reference laboratory.

“SM-TOT is a higher-level training that mainly focuses on the skills and competencies of participants as future regional trainers. We train our participants, because we want them to implement and teach the proper and standardized manner in performing SSM in their respective regions,” said Ms. Urcia.

The five-day course included lecture sessions on TB laboratory training guidelines; smearing, staining, and microscopy laboratory practices; and workshops on training course preparations, implementation, and report writing.

Eleven (11) selected participants from the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc. (PTSI), Caraga Region, Ilocos Region, and Cagayan Valley Region successfully passed the training and are now considered TOT-graduates.

The graduates will then schedule to conduct and pass their preceptorship activity under the supervision of NTRL-LDS. If the graduates pass the standardized preceptorship assessment tool, the graduates will be certified as trainers for SSM for two years.