GNBS hosts successful Laboratory Symposium in observance of National Quality Week 2023

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) is currently observing National Quality Week 2023 under the theme “Shared Vision for a Better World: Incorporating SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing).” In keeping with the theme, the GNBS yesterday, Tuesday, October 10, 2023, hosted a successful Laboratory Symposium to educate Laboratory professionals on the importance of standards, quality and safety in the laboratory.

The event, which was hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), attracted sixty-five (65) participants from clinical and testing laboratories in the public and private sectors. To enhance the information provided to the participants, the Bureau invited representatives from the Standards and Technical Services Department of the Ministry of Health, and the Occupational Safety & Health Department of the Ministry of Labour.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Head of the Bureau’s Industrial Metrology and Testing Department, Ms. Donna Canterbury in her remarks pointed out that the forum is intended to educate the participants of their responsibilities. “This session brings together you as laboratory professionals and the regulatory agencies to clarity what is needed to set up and maintain laboratories that are compliant with standards and laws,” she advised.

The GNBS has so far certified thirty-one (31) Clinical and Testing laboratories under its Laboratory Certification Programme. This programme serves as a stepping stone to international accreditation.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Mrs. Sharon Roopchand-Edwards, in her remarks, emphasized the importance of laboratories in the success of health-care institutions, the well-being of the population, tourism and international trade.

She pointed out that standards must be intertwined with day-to-day operations to ensure consumers are assured of quality and consistency.

“With the increasing number of private healthcare facilities, there are more significant interactions between facilities and patients of medical institutions sourcing specific tests from other sites because of availability or urgency. This places a greater demand for consistency since doctors will rely primarily on the results supplied by external facilities. It also ensures that clinical diagnoses are consistent regardless of the laboratory that conducts the tests, she noted.”

Mrs. Roopchand-Edwards added that beyond the need for standards in the medical labs, testing labs also have a critical role to play in quality control, international certifications, and food security.

The Permanent Secretary also spoke of the major developments taking place in the Guyana’s healthcare sector, including the construction of medical facilities and capacity building.

She went on to note that the Government through the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce will continue to support the work of the GNBS which provides various calibration, testing, certification, training and other standards-related services to laboratories. She alluded to the construction of a new state-of-the-art laboratory facility with a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank for the GNBS to provide more services in an efficient manner.

Meanwhile, the acting Head of the Ministry of Health’s Standards and Technical Services Department, Dr. Pedro Lewis told participants that it is important to ensure all regulatory and compliance documents are in place for the operations of the laboratories. Dr. Lewis who was also a presenter at the Symposium lauded the GNBS for playing an important role in ensuring clinical and testing facilities are operating in accordance with the standard.

Presentations were also done by GNBS Technical Officers, Ms. Charissa Wilson and Maya Phillips and Senior Occupational Safety & Health Officer – Ministry of Labour, Mr. Roydon Croal. The topics covered include Regulations and Compliance Requirements for Laboratories, GNBS Laboratory Certification Programme, the GYS 170:2021 National Standard, Auditing Services provided by the GNBS, Laboratory Safety and Quality, Occupational Safety and Health requirements, and requirements of the ISO 15189 and ISO/IEC 17025 standards. The GNBS has a list of activities planned for the remainder of National Quality Week including the National Quality Awards on Wednesday, a free Food Safety Training for stakeholders and an Impromptu Speech Competition for Secondary Schools in Region 3 on Thursday. These activities conclude with a Staff Appreciation Awards ceremony on Friday, October 13.

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