Jul 27, 2009 News Comments Off on Laboratory tests at Regional facilities to be improved
– Dr Roach
As part of its mandate to improve the quality of laboratory tests available within the public health sector, the National Public Health Reference Laboratory has commenced a technique sharing programme.
And this initiative, according to the Director of Reference Lab, Dr Colin Roach, is geared at ensuring that the same high quality of tests available at the Reference Lab is obtainable at Regional Laboratories.
He disclosed that the venture was first kicked into action with a ‘Trainer of Trainers’ workshop for participants of the main laboratory which was facilitated by experts from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Local laboratory professionals were also exposed to microbiology training from the Institute for Human Virology of Maryland, United States, before engaging the expansion initiative, Dr Roach disclosed.
“We are now taking it to the Regions. The first training was done in New Amsterdam and now it is in Essequibo. We have had roll-out training where persons from this facility went to Essequibo to do training in Haematology and we have had participants from the Bartica and Suddie Hospitals.”
In essence, Dr Roach disclosed that the laboratory service offered by the Reference lab would be decentralised but the aim was that the Reference Lab would serve as the core laboratory of the country.
“The plan was that we would develop the techniques and best practices then take them to the regional labs,” the doctor related.
But according to the Director, in order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, the frequency of tests and the appropriateness of the tasks must be first considered. And this is essential he said, since in some cases it would not be cost effective to take a test to Essequibo because laboratory staffers there may only have the need to conduct certain tests once per month.
However, it is anticipated that routine tests that are conducted at regional laboratories would continue as usual, except with the same quality of that which obtained at the Reference Lab.
“The routine things they will continue to do but the more exotic things will be done here (Reference Lab),” Dr Roach asserted.
The Reference Lab was commissioned on July 3 last year and has been making significant strides to advance the laboratory capabilities of the public health system.
The prestigious laboratory which has been deemed a “Centre of Excellence” by Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, has within its confines, seven departments, including Haematology, Chemistry, Tuberculosis, Quality Assurance, Surveillance and Bacteriology.
The capabilities of the Reference Centre stand out, as it is able to process thousands of samples on a monthly basis with an average of 600 samples from the TB suites, 700 from the CD4 suites, and about 1,000 from the Serology suites.
According to Dr Roach, the idea behind the introduction of such a facility is that it not only engages in doing routine tests but also rather specialised tasks. And these he said include DNA-PCR and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) PCR which are completely new to Guyana.
He explained that the DNA-PCR is the test used to diagnose babies who are born from HIV positive mothers. And this is a breakthrough for the public health system, since according to Dr Roach, in the past such diagnosis could have only been confirmed until 18 months had elapsed.
And with the RNA-PCR, the viral load measurement, that is the measure of the severity of an infection, lab personnel are able to monitor HIV patients that are on Anti-Retroviral (ARV).
All results readings that emanate from the sophisticated machines are read in totality by lab staffers.
However, with its PCR suites, Dr Roach revealed that the testing capacity of the laboratory is poised for significant expansion.
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