There is broad consensus that well-functioning, sustainable laboratory services are crucial for clinical care and public health. Laboratories are the eyes and ears for disease outbreak surveillance. Reliable laboratory test results form the foundation for evidence-based disease control, robust surveillance, and early treatment of patients. It is therefore of extreme importance that medical- and public health laboratories operate according to international principles of quality and safety.
Well functioning laboratories and laboratory networks ensure the availability of quality services for the whole population.
The reality is unfortunately different. Medical laboratories are suffering from decades of neglect. In many countries poor laboratory services led to mistrust in laboratory results, which in turn led to omission of laboratory tests from diagnostic decision making. This, in turn, led to further neglect of the laboratory sector, completing the negative spiral. Nevertheless, research has shown that omission of laboratory data from diagnostic decision making leads to increased misdiagnosis. This increases human suffering as patients may receive the wrong diagnosis, which may be worsened by the fact that they receive treatment for diseases they don't have.