Improving access to spirometry and spirometry champions in Africa
From 2017 to 2021 the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS) has been building spirometry capacity through the training, mentorship and technical support of 482 healthcare professionals across 13 countries in Africa (Table).
A range of spirometry certificate training programmes were undertaken, including Foundational, Paediatric, Data Review and Quality Assurance, Refresher and Train-the-trainer courses. An ongoing equipment repository has also assisted researchers to conduct clinical work and undertake research. We have built capability for spirometry testing in asthma clinics in low- and middle-income country workplaces where specialised testing and equipment is limited. There is also inequity in terms of access to care. In 2020 we pivoted to the development of e-learning and online training due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dissemination of spirometry training impacts both disease assessment and facilitates patient education with an objective measure of their asthma. Through spirometry screening in the community, early referral for treatment can improve health outcomes.
Further development of an e-Learning platform and online training together with translation of learning materials into French, Portuguese, Spanish and Armharic are next priorities.