Paidamoyo Chipunza, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwean laboratories must ensure that minimum standards of quality are implemented in all their facilities for them to be at par with other internationally recognised institutions, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo has said.
Officially opening this year’s Zimbabwe National Quality Assurance Programme (ZINQAP) scientific conference held in Harare, Dr Moyo said laboratories were a key component in the health delivery system as they played a significant role in disease diagnosis, monitoring of treatment, surveillance, as well as research.
“We want to see all laboratories and testing sites meeting a minimum standard to ensure that every Zimbabwean has access to quality reliable testing services,” said Dr Moyo.
He said his ministry recognised the importance of quality standards and systems reinforced with certification and accreditation, which he said enabled the country to attract clients from other countries.
“If we strengthen our health delivery system and attain international certifications and accreditation, we can provide quality world class testing services for our laboratories and testing sites as well as attract international patients and become a medical tourism destination in the near future,” said Dr Moyo.
Speaking at the same occasion, ZINQAP executive director Mrs Sibongile Zimuto said her organisation was working with other regional and international bodies of quality assurance to ensure that the performance of Zimbabwean institutions did not lag behind.
She said there was a need to establish and support a comprehensive quality management system for all laboratories in the country as this was lacking.
Mrs Zimuto said there was poor appreciation of the value and importance of External Quality Assurance (EQA) within Zimbabwean laboratories. EQA is used to describe a method that allows for comparison of a laboratory’s testing results to another source outside that laboratory.
This comparison can be made between a peer group of laboratories or with a reference laboratory.
“At the moment, EQA is not mandatory,” said Mrs Zimuto. “We would want to see it being mandatory for all laboratories and successful participation must be a pre-requisite for annual registration.”
Diagnostics Laboratory Suppliers is one of the first laboratories in the country to offer EQA.
The company’s sales manager Mr Herbert Ngwere Bunhu said they introduced EQA in 2015 and started off with diseases that needed chemistry tests such as liver and heart function in 2015.
Meanwhile, over 200 delegates attended the two-day conference which ran under the theme: Celebrating 20 years of Excellence in Laboratory Medicine .