Around 20 staff members of the clinical laboratory and the public health laboratory are expected to improve on their practices now that they are receiving training on international standards.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has funded this project and three consultants — Petros Ndanga, Colin Shamhuyarira and Sibongile Zimuto — from the Quality Systems Africa firm in Zimbabwe are leading the training.
Its aims are to adopt the international standard processes in the laboratories developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation’s Technical Committee, and these will help the staff to be more confident and better equipped to implement these standards as well as conduct audits to identify gaps in their systems.
The senior laboratory technologist in the clinical laboratory, Joanne Pragassen, said that the training consists of an awareness part which is for all of the staff whereas the implementation and auditing parts will be attended by 13 staff from the clinical laboratory and 8 from the public health laboratory.
She noted that this is the first certified training the laboratories will be receiving, and it will go in-depth on how to go about developing and implementing the processes.
“We are expecting to see improved processes in turnaround time of results, for example pre-examination which is receiving better quality of samples, external quality assurance which involves comparing our results with other accredited labs,” she said.
She also explained what guidelines the laboratories were using before.
“We had a lot of internal processes which we had developed ourselves, but this is an internationally recognised guideline which is the standard for medical laboratories and is recognised by the WHO so it will definitely help us.”
Ms Pragassen said that there may be some delays from the laboratories while this training is being held as there is an inadequate number of staff, so she is hoping to get the clinicians and patients to be cooperative and understanding, as this training is one of paramount importance.
She also pointed out that these sessions will benefit the staff as it will help them to practice more confidently knowing that they are following some international guidelines.
It was the director of hospital services Dr Loren Reginald who officially launched the training on Monday morning at the Seychelles Hospital in the presence of WHO liaison officer Cornelia Atsyor, key health officials and laboratory staff members.
In his address Dr Reginald said: “The road to improvement must be experienced in a slow and gradual process based upon building a culture of quality, increasing knowledge and uphold continual improvement.”
“Through the active practice of quality processes we can detect errors earlier and reduce the repetition of the same overtime,” he added.
The two-week laboratory accreditation training which is new to most staff and technical support will be on two main standards which include ISO 15189 and ISO 17025.
ISO 15189 specifies the quality management system requirements particular to medical laboratories specifically the clinical laboratory. It covers different key aspects of a medical laboratory such as advice to its users, the collection of patient samples, internal and external quality control practices, time required for tests to be carried out, how testing is to be provided in a medical emergency and the lab’s role in the education and training of health care staff. To date more than 200 countries have implemented this standard.
ISO 17025 is used by testing and calibration laboratories such as the public health laboratory and is the standard for which those labs must hold in order to be deemed technically competent. It is applicable to all laboratories where testing and/or calibration forms part of inspection and product certification. Laboratories use this ISO to implement a quality system aimed at improving their ability to consistently produce valid results.