Background: In an effective and efficient health system, laboratory medicine should play a critical role. This is not the case in Africa, where there is a lack of demand for diagnostic exams due to mistrust of health laboratory performance. Doctors with Africa CUAMM (Collegio Universitario Aspiranti Medici Missionari) is a non-profit organization, working mainly in sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) to help and sustain local health systems. Doctors with Africa CUAMM has advocated the need for a harmonized model for health laboratories to assess and evaluate the performance of the facilities in which they operate. Methods: In order to develop a harmonized model for African health laboratories, previous attempts at strengthening them through standardization were taken into consideration and reviewed. A survey with four Italian clinicians experienced in the field was then performed to try and understand the actual needs of health facilities. Finally a market survey was conducted to find new technologies able to update the resulting model. Results: Comparison of actual laboratories with the developed standard – which represents the best setting any African health laboratory could aim for – allowed shortcomings in expected services to be identified and interventions subsequently prioritized. The most appropriate equipment was proposed to perform the envisaged techniques. The suitability of appliances was evaluated in consideration of recognized international recommendations, reported experiences in the field, and the availability of innovative solutions that can be performed on site in rural areas, but require minimal sample preparation and little technical expertise. Conclusions : The present work has developed a new, up-to-date, harmonized model for African health laboratories. The authors suggest lists of procedures to challenge the major African health problems – HIV/AIDS, malaria, tubercolosis (TB) – at each level of pyramidal health system. This model will hopefully support the non-governmental organization (NGO) Doctors with Africa CUAMM in its activities in sub-Saharan hospitals, providing them with a guideline to programme future interventions.