A Big Win towards UHC as Three County Laboratories Receive ISO Accreditation for Laboratory Quality Management Systems

by Noah Wekesa

Three laboratories in Makueni, Taita Taveta and Mombasa counties have received International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 15189 accreditation.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is a body that sets and certifies quality standards for a number of sectors including manufacturing processes, management systems, service delivery, documentation and quality assurance schemes.

Premised on the notion that the provision of quality health care is influenced by the availability and capacity of support systems such as laboratory services, Makindu Sub-County Hospital (Makueni County), Moi County Referral Hospital, Voi (Taita Taveta County), and Port Reitz Sub-County Hospital (Mombasa County) now offer improved quality diagnostic services.

ISO 15189 specifies standards required for quality management systems (QMS) for the provision of laboratory services. For a laboratory to attain ISO 15189 accreditation, it must be able to produce accurate, reliable and timely results and is required to have met specific quality management credentials.

With funding from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Amref Health Africa in Kenya has supported the accreditation process as well as the development of County Laboratory Strategic Plans based on World Health Organisation (WHO) health system-strengthening framework that feeds into the County Health Strategic Plans.

“Amref Health Africa remains committed to ensuring laboratories in the Eastern and Coastal regions of Kenya are designed to diagnose diseases accurately for proper patient care and for timely responses to epidemics in order to provide the highest standard of care,” said Julius Tome, Project Manager with Amref’s Sustainable Laboratory Quality Systems (SLQS) project. The SLQS project works towards the implementation of sustainable, reliable and quality assured laboratory services to increase access to testing for surveillance, prevention, treatment and care of HIV, TB, and related opportunistic diseases in selected health facilities in seven counties in the Lower Eastern and Coastal regions.

Mr Tome noted that diagnostic tests are an integral component of health care and in order to deliver on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), there is need to improve the capacities of existing laboratories to provide quality diagnostic services. The accredited laboratories can now offer improved access to quality laboratory services in line with the UHC pillar of quality.

Six laboratories from Kilifi, Kitui and Machakos, Kwale Counties as well as the Amref Central laboratory in Nairobi are currently recommended for accreditation through the SQLS project. Since April 2015, the SLQS project has supported laboratory QMS in Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi counties. The project has also provided technical support in the development of laboratory policies and guidelines at the national level and their application at county levels, capacity development for laboratory managers and supervisors, development and strengthening of laboratory QMS, among other achievements.

The project has also supported the National Public Health Laboratories to procure proficiency-testing materials for HIV, TB microscopy, GeneXpert, chemistry and haematology, as well as the review and pre-testing of the Forensic Management module of the Sexual and Gender-based Violence Trainers’ Manual.

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