The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has made history by obtaining a five star scoring through the Africa Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) external audits. ASLM was established to evaluate and recognise the progress of the laboratory Quality Management Systems (QMS) using the World Health Organization’s, Africa Stepwise Laboratory Improvement Process towards Accreditation’s (WHO AFRO SLIPTA) checklist.
The Kroonstad laboratory in the Free State, has obtained a five star scoring rating, which is the highest rating on the WHO AFRO SLIPTA checklist.
There were seven laboratories from the NHLS that participated in the audit and those were;
- Edendale (KwaZulu-Natal);
- Kalafong (Gauteng);
- Kroonstad (Free State);
- Leratong (Gauteng);
- Pelonomi (Free State);
- RK Khan (KwaZulu-Natal) and
- Tembisa (Gauteng);
These laboratories were part of 18 laboratory cohort in the Strengthening Laboratory Management Towards Accreditation (SLMTA) programme. SLMTA is training and mentoring tool that assists laboratory management to implement quality management systems based on international standards. The process involves baseline internal audits, three workshops, and three cycles of two, one week long site visits after each workshop and the sharing of an improvement plan, an internal exit audit, before the ASLM audit. The programme was implemented with funding by the Laboratory Branch of Centre for Communicable Disease Control (CDC) South Africa, as a partner to the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the NHLS.
According to Dr Maruta who is ASLM’s senior programme manager, the predictors, which qualify the laboratory to get a Star, are qualities such as good infrastructure; availability of Quality Management System experts; as well as staff commitment and availability of adequate financial resources.
This makes South Africa, the first country in Africa to have two laboratories obtaining a five star scoring by ASLM external audits. The Northdale laboratory in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu – Natal was the first to receive the scoring in July 2014. Nigeria had the first laboratory in Africa to obtain a five star rating. Prior to Kroonstad’s achievement there were only two five star rating laboratories in Africa. SLIPTA management appreciated NHLS’ management for their contribution and support in the growing SLIPTA.
In addition, Dr Maruta mentioned that there were 469 laboratories accredited in Africa as of March 2015 and 381 of these are from South Africa (NHLS).
In response Mrs Joyce Mogale the CEO of the NHLS, was pleased with the results, and assured that management is extremely proud of this achievement. Furthermore, Mrs Mogale indicated that while NHLS is celebrating they would like to assist other countries in the African continent to improve their accreditation status. This achievement is indicative of the fact that the NHLS is contributing towards achieving its vision to be Africa’s centre of excellence for innovative laboratory medicine.