CLSI Senior Program Manager, Patrick Mateta, MT, MBA, laughed when asked if moving to the United States from Africa four years ago was a big change for him and his family. “Wow. Huge,” answered Mr. Mateta. “The first weekend, there was a huge snowstorm.”
It was the first time his three children, then ages 1, 8, and 12, had ever seen snow. The Zimbabwe native had relocated with his family to the Philadelphia area in December 2009 to work as a full-time employee of the CLSI Global Health Partnerships (GHP) program. He previously was a volunteer and then a contractor for GHP.
Mr. Mateta was drawn to the medical field from an early age and majored in medical laboratory sciences with a focus on hematology and blood transfusions at the University of Zimbabwe. He spent 12 years working in government hospitals and the national blood center in his home country. He later joined the University of Zimbabwe to work on HIV and AIDS research projects. During that time, he also earned his master of business administration degree from Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom.
While working at the University of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mateta began collaborating with consultants from Johns Hopkins University who were regularly visiting Zimbabwe to improve the university laboratory’s quality management systems. One of those consultants, Patricia Rizzo-Price, was hired as the first vice president of CLSI GHP in 2007, and she asked Mr. Mateta to volunteer for CLSI after the organization became a partner in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In 2008, Mr. Mateta spent three months as a volunteer laboratory mentor in Tanzania. He was then hired as a contractor to work for GHP; he was the program’s second full-time employee. Mr. Mateta spent a year in Namibia preparing the Windhoek Central Reference Laboratory to apply for accreditation. The laboratory achieved accreditation in 2010.
Mr. Mateta has since worked in four additional laboratories in Namibia, which are all in varying stages along the path to accreditation. He is hoping to receive additional funding to continue his work with the Namibia laboratories.
Mr. Mateta has also worked extensively in Tanzania, assisting in the development of the country’s first national laboratory policy and helping six national and zonal health laboratories to improve operations, implement quality management systems, and work toward compliance with international laboratory standards. Four of those laboratories have been recommended for accreditation.
He said he is proud of how far those laboratories have progressed since 2007. When he compares photographs of the facilities taken six years ago to present-day pictures, they look like completely different laboratories. “It’s really unimaginable,” Mr. Mateta said. “They have moved along so well, and the individuals who have stuck with us, to see them grow in their understanding of quality is amazing.”
CLSI, the Tanzania Ministry of Health, and the Tanzania Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office have worked so closely together over the years, Mr. Mateta said, that the employees feel like a family.
The current focus of PEPFAR and CLSI is developing the capacity of the laboratory systems in countries such as Tanzania and Namibia so quality can be maintained once the program ends. Last year, the GHP team trained 40 local laboratory mentors and 16 local assessors in Tanzania, and then invited 25 of those students to attend workshops to certify them as Master Mentor or Master Assessor Trainers.
The Master Assessors and Mentors will travel the large country to train local assessors and mentors. “I am confident that they can go forward and continue the work,” Mateta said.
To find out more about the CLSI GHP program, please visit www.clsi.org/ghp.
If your company is looking to make an end-of-year tax-deductible donation, consider making a contribution to the CLSI GHP laboratory quality improvement program. For more information, please contact Director of Development Lauren Wiley at 484.588.5935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.