Assessment of utilization of animal disease diagnostic laboratories in selected districts in Eastern region
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Inadequate diagnosis of animal diseases is one of the drivers of increased emergency of zoonotic diseases, Trans boundary animal diseases and the increasing rate of antimicrobial resistance hence conducting laboratory tests would be one of the best methods to overcome them. However, level of utilization as well as the range by animal health service providers of diagnostic services offered by these laboratories is not yet known. The aim of this study was to assess the utilization of animal disease diagnostic laboratories by animal health service providers in the districts of Eastern region of Uganda. Google forms were formulated, consisting of structured and Semi structured e-questionnaires and availed to respondents in the respective study districts. A total of 120 animal health service providers and 13 district veterinary officers were enrolled into the study. Data was collected about the demographics of the veterinary diagnostic laboratories and the study participants, the range of diagnostic services offered, services sought by animal health service providers, level of utilization of the laboratories and factors influencing utilization of the laboratories. An excel data set was downloaded from the server, exported into SPSS 26 for further analysis. Results were presented as frequencies, percentages and bar graphs. 9/13:66.6% of the districts had veterinary diagnostic laboratories. However, the range of diagnostic services was narrow and not uniformly distributed in all the laboratories. Disease diagnostic tests commonly requested for range from hematology, parasitology and serology while PCR test is the least requested services. The level of utilization of animal disease laboratories by animal health service providers 22.5% and the top most of the factors influencing utilization of the laboratories were unaffordable cost of the services by the farmers, limited awareness of farmers about the availability of veterinary diagnostic laboratories at the district and their impotence, long turnaround time for results, long distance associated with high transport costs to and from the laboratory facility. There is increased need for intersectoral engagement and funding support from the private, industry, and government sectors for the improvement of veterinary diagnostic services in the country so that the capability of laboratories to provide critical diagnostic services required by the farmers is enhanced hence increasing the level of utilization.