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The Story of CLSI’s Global Health Partnerships

By Megan Scanlon
Marketing Communications Specialist, CLSI

This week, I had the privilege of sitting down with two of our Global Health Partnerships (GHP) team members, Patrick Mateta, Senior International Program Manager, and Lilly N. Mukoka, International Program Manager, to discuss their roles in CLSI’s global laboratory efforts.

It can be very hard to track down our busy GHP staff members because of their travel schedules. Our meeting was eye-opening, exciting, and most importantly, inspiring. Both Patrick and Lilly have a passion for quality health care that is infectious, which is why I want to share with you their stories of working for GHP.

For a quick background, our GHP team is a group of five staff members that work within the greater CLSI organizational structure. Most of their work is grant funded, and they work alongside CLSI staff, volunteers, other organizations, and local, district, and national laboratories to implement quality management systems (QMS) in resource-constrained countries.

GHP offers workshops, in-country training, and continual improvement for laboratories to establish their own QMS. Their goal is to prepare laboratories with everything they need to prepare for accreditation within their country’s health care structure.

Helping a laboratory prepare for accreditation, however, sounds like a very top-level objective. So you may be thinking, what makes GHP different from any other organization that helps a laboratory prepare for accreditation? How do they accomplish this goal? And most importantly, what does this goal mean to the global laboratory community as a whole?

The CLSI GHP team travels to laboratories in countries that are just starting their journey toward quality management. They help them from the ground up during their implementation process. GHP staff provides the resources and support that laboratories need to implement a trusted QMS, using reliable standards such as CLSI document QMS01-A4, ISO 15189:2012, CLSI workbook The Key to Quality, and CLSI document QMS06-A3. GHP staff travels to various countries and does an initial assessment along with a gap analysis of the laboratory—a comparison of actual performance with the potential or desired performance—as a personalized evaluation. After the evaluation, GHP staff provides a specialized and detailed plan of action for the individual laboratory to implement changes based on the initial findings.

GHP staff works one-on-one with the laboratories to learn about their long-term goals and how these goals can fit into an overarching QMS objective. GHP staff members can then provide the laboratory with deliverables and an implementation plan; and when necessary, they will schedule follow-up in-country meetings, implement mentorship programs, train local staff to be laboratory leaders, and focus on the idea of continued improvement by working with the laboratory as an ongoing process—because quality improvement never stops.

GHP’s overarching goal is to help laboratories reach accreditation, but most importantly, it is to achieve the testing results that local doctors, health care professionals, and the public can trust. GHP staff wants to inspire quality management, not only in the laboratory, but throughout the entire health care system to promote a culture of quality, and to improve quality patient care worldwide.

Patrick, a GHP veteran, has worked in many different countries throughout his time with the CLSI GHP team. He noted with excitement many measurable facts—such as laboratories in Namibia and Mali that were accredited in 2010 and four laboratories in Tanzania that were accredited over the last two years. Additionally, a fifth laboratory in Tanzania was recently recommended for accreditation, and a laboratory in Kenya was also recently recommended for accreditation.

DSC_1568

A photo of an accreditation ceremony for three laboratories in Tanzania in August 2014. Pictured from left to right: Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Margaret Mhando; CDC Country Director, Dr. Michelle Roland; Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Seif Rashid; Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr. Donan Mmbando; SADCAS CEO, Mrs. Maureen Mutasa; and Patrick Mateta.

What really inspired me was not only Patrick’s list of accomplishments during his tenure with the GHP team, but more so his excitement and gratification surrounding his work. GHP has a truly dedicated staff that is committed to laboratory quality. I loved how he stressed during our conversation that, “It isn’t about the surface results”—such as accreditations—“but rather the overall implementation processes that are what make CLSI unique and successful.” He could not be more supportive of GHP’s efforts to provide laboratories with everything they need to improve their health care system.

Lilly, on the other hand, has just recently found herself back in a position on the GHP team where she is more involved with traveling throughout the world to implement QMS. Her most recent project started a few months ago and is focused on helping to strengthen laboratories in Kazakhstan.

Like Patrick, Lilly spoke very highly of the GHP team’s accomplishments, but my biggest takeaway from speaking with her was her insight to improving global health care. Lilly noted that Kazakhstan, for example, has some of the most sophisticated laboratories in the world—just like the United States—but it also has some laboratories that need a lot of work—once more, just like the United States. She noted that it is interesting to see the commonalities between medical technologists everywhere. Lilly stated that she learns things every time she travels with GHP, but it is wonderful to see that quality management can be a common and unifying goal throughout the laboratory world. As she so perfectly stated, “It doesn’t matter what country or culture you are in; when you talk about quality, everyone speaks the same language. You start to understand why we are doing what we are doing to implement quality in these laboratories.”

Check back in the coming months for news about the laboratories that were recommended for accreditation in Tanzania and Kenya. Also, in case you were wondering, recommendations for accreditation mean that a laboratory has met its minimum requirements for accreditation, but needs to clear a few nonconformities within a specific time frame to reach full accreditation.

As for Lilly, she will be busy traveling throughout the spring and summer to Kazakhstan on behalf of the GHP team. Look for updates later in the summer to hear more about her travels and the next steps after the implementation process for Kazakhstan’s quality journey.


Updates as of July 15, 2015

After only one year, the Bomu Hospital laboratory in Kenya, mentioned above, was accredited with the help of the CLSI GHP team. This accreditation is not only significant in regard to Kenya’s ever-improving laboratory system, but also for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the continued success of their US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. Patrick will be traveling to Kenya next Friday, July 26, 2015, to attend a meeting for CDC implementers regarding PEPFAR activities in Kenya. After that meeting, we hopefully to receive more news on the accreditation status of the laboratories in Tanzania in the coming months.

As for Lilly, she is currently in Kazakhstan working hard. We will be catching up with her later in the summer for more information about the status of the programs in Kazakhstan.

 
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GHP By the Numbers

20+
number of resource-constrained countries we’re working in

10+
number of partners we collaborate with worldwide

100+
workshops that have allowed GHP Staff to reach over 4,000 laboratory professionals globally

GHP’s Global Partners

  • ASCP
  • ASLM
  • ASM
  • CDC
  • CHAI
  • FHI
  • GHSS
  • KIT
  • URC
  • WHO-AFRO
  • WHO-Lyon

CLSI touched every element of laboratory operations. The laboratory staff appreciated the continuing education on quality control, safety, and documentation.”

– Medard Beyanga, Laboratory  Quality Officer, Bugando  Medical Center

Patrick Mateta Video

Patrick Mateta, Senior International Program Manager, CLSI, describes the life-changing experience of volunteering for the Global Health Partnerships program.

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