In 2014, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development of Kazakhstan worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation to launch the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP). A series of target labs were chosen to participate in a 15-month laboratory improvement project, overseen by multiple partner organizations.
The Situation & Challenge
Kazakhstan, a country of nearly 18 million people, has thousands of laboratories. However, many were designed and built in the 1950s. After the fall of the Soviet Union, these labs no longer received the support needed to keep them updated to meet international laboratory standards. One example of the problem is that a blood safety study found 50% of HIV-infected donor blood was missed by standard lab testing.1
Many of the nation's laboratories were health hazards. Observations were made of lab doors with no locks or biohazard signs to keep patients out, facilities with no eyewash stations, and outdated practices in common use. Furthermore, there were few experts available who could train technicians on how to apply proper standards.2
With the goal of establishing a network of modern labs that follow international laboratory standards and provide reliable and trustworthy results, the program focused on training laboratory managers how to implement a quality management system for their own facilities and serve as mentors for improvement efforts at other laboratories.
Within two years, CLSI helped two labs attain accreditation aligned with ISO 15189, with four more implementing a full Quality Management Systems (QMS). Over 100 personnel were trained, resulting in improved quality of HIV testing, treatment, and monitoring. The Ministry of Health designated four of the pilot test laboratories to serve as "expert" regional laboratories, offering targeted training to other facilities to improve labs across the nation at a grassroots, self-sustaining level.