By Salim Yunusa
Only seven out of the over 5,349 medical laboratories in Nigeria meet the ISO 15189 international accreditation standards of the International Organisation for Standardisation’s Technical Committee for medical laboratories.
The ISO 15189:2012 is an internationally regulatory standard for medical labs that accredits a laboratory as meeting quality management systems and a standard used by regulators, accreditation bodies and customers to confirm or recognize a laboratory’s competence.
Heads of Regulatory and accreditation bodies to include the Director-General, Nigeria National Accreditation System (NINAS), Dr Celestine Okanya; Director, Laboratory Programme Group, GHMS, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Mr Ade Adekoya, disclosed the Nigerian situation while presenting the ISO 15189 laboratory accreditation certificate to Access to Basic Medical Care Foundation, in Ibadan, on Thursday.
Speaking at the event, DG, NINAS, Okanya said the ABC foundation was joining the big league of less than 10 medical laboratories in Nigeria whose laboratory results are acceptable anywhere in the world.
While noting that more laboratories in the country only had the ISO 17025 certification, Okanya said the government must encourage and support private laboratories for them to meet the yearning of Nigerians for quality health service delivery.
Speaking in the same vein, Director, Laboratory Programme Group, GHMS, USP, Mr Ade Adekoya described the fact that there were less than 10 out of over 5,349 medical laboratories in Nigeria, with ISO 15189, as unacceptable.
He noted that the ABC foundation was the third to be accredited by NINAS to ISO 15189 and the second in Oyo state.
Adekoya charged the government and owners of private laboratories to take steps towards having accreditation of international standards.
Responding to the charge, Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora identified public/private partnership in health as crucial to providing health security for Nigerians.
He lamented that the fact that there were less than 10 out of over 5,000 laboratories with ISO 15189 certification was evidence that the nation had a long journey ahead in strengthening medical and public health laboratory science capacity in Nigeria.
Stressing the importance of quality diagnosis, Mamora decried several medical errors by a lot of laboratories due to the incompetence of medical personnel or/and the use of expired reagents to carry out tests.
“We have a long way to go and it is a challenge for us in the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health cannot do it alone and that is why Public/Private partnership in health is encouraged so that we can do more together.
“A lot of laboratories does not tell the right thing usually due to the incompetence of the personnel in the medical facility or people using expired reagents to carry out tests. It is important to make very right diagnosis.
“The ISO certification highlights the importance of right diagnosis. With this accreditation of ABC, we are even more confident in the services of public health laboratories and we want to highlight that the ABC laboratory is one of less than 10 laboratories in Nigeria with the ISO 15189 award. We have over 5,000 laboratories and less than 10 have this accreditation.
“While this should give you a sense of pride, it is also a stark reminder that we have a long journey ahead in strengthening medical and public health laboratory science capacity in Nigeria,” Mamora said.
In her remarks, Director General, National Agency for Food and Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Mojisola Adeyeye charged the ABC Foundation to sustain the quality culture that made them get the ISO accreditation.
He, especially, charged the ABC foundation on transparency, customer satisfaction, continual process improvement, continual improvement of service delivery, continuous training.
Former Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who chaired the occasion, acknowledged that the continent was far behind in providing quality laboratory services.
He lauded the provision of a quality lab by the ABC foundation as a major effort in repositioning health care in the country.
He urged the ABC foundation to maintain standards and its reliability, noting that scientists, clinicians around the world would be confident to use the facility that has a certificate of quality and authoritative recognition by the International Organisation for Standardisation’s Technical Committee.
Founder, ABC Foundation, Dr Florence Ajimobi assured that the laboratory will remain committed to quality systems and improvement of its service delivery that will provide the basis for better customer satisfaction, staff motivation and continuous improvement.
She assured that the laboratory will continue to uphold validity and appropriateness of test methods, improve sample handling and testing across the process workflow, further motivate team members with improved morale to touch more lives.
Furthermore, she assured of continued improvement and review of policies, conformity with global best practices, satisfaction with full conditions of law and regulatory agencies and ensuring that clients have confidence that the services received at the facility are assuring and safe.