Lab Matters Spring 2017 | Page 22

global health Dignitaries and laboratory staff gather to celebrate the Center's launch. Photo by Rufus Nyaga Kenya NPHL Launches National Equipment Calibration Center by Edwin Ochieng, laboratory technical consultant, Global Health; Nicholas M. Kiarie, biomedical engineering technical consultant, Global Health; and Esther Gathinji, senior specialist, Global Health T he Kenya Ministry of Health, in collaboration with development partners, has supported the acquisition of diagnostic laboratory equipment for use in health facilities across the country. These facilities have faced a host of challenges in managing the equipment crucial for disease diagnosis and patient treatment. To counter these challenges, APHL partnered with Kenya’s National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) to establish an equipment calibration center to provide calibration services, certification and training. A True Partnership Launched on April 6, 2017, the NPHL Center for Excellence in Equipment Calibration, Certification and Training aims to assure confidence in laboratory diagnostics with increased access to regularly functional, well-calibrated equipment for accurate readings. In addition, it seeks to educate a cadre of highly competent staff trained to maintain laboratory equipment. The enterprise represents a true partnership between APHL and AIHA. With funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Center for Global Health, APHL supported establishment of the Center, procured necessary calibration tools and equipment for preventive maintenance, designed a refresher training curriculum, and provided support for five of nine focus counties. For its part, AIHA developed a curriculum around common laboratory equipment—microscopes, refrigerators, freezers, centrifuges, weighing scale and balances, mixers and vortex equipment—and assisted the remaining four focus counties with equipment management. APHL conducted a baseline assessment in 20 facilities across five counties, using a structured questionnaire to establish the gaps and strengths. Challenges included a lack of planned preventive maintenance for over 80% of laboratory equipment and biomedical engineers without the skills and basic hand tools to repair non-functional equipment. Added to this, more than 90% of pipettes had not been calibrated. 20 LAB MATTERS Spring 2017 In collaboration with the NPHL technical working group and AIHA, APHL developed a biomedical refresher training curriculum with the assistance of David Duet, APHL member and facilities manager at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Clinics. To date, 32 participants have undergone theoretical and hands-on training covering pipettes, thermometers, timers, autoclaves, incubators, water baths and inventory management. Thirty-six sets of biomedical hand tools, and ten sets of refrigeration and calibration tools were also procured for use by trained engineers in the nine focus counties and at the calibration center. Immediate Results With the trainings completed, the NPHL reference laboratories can handle equipment maintenance internally and forego the cost of external maintenance engineers. Contracts for maintenance of non-automated equipment, such as microscopes, centrifuge autoclaves, water baths, incubators, sterilizers, pipette timers, thermometers, refrigerators/freezers and vortex mixers are no longer required, resulting in savings of over $20,000 USD annually. At other county facilities, over 20 pieces of laboratory equipment have been repaired and preventive maintenance schedules developed. This project has strengthened the relationship between laboratorians and biomedical engineers at the various facilities. To continue to improve the quality of laboratory services in Kenya, NPHL will ensure that training extends to facilities throughout the country. Twelve trainers will now cross-train laboratory staff in calibration and preventive maintenance of equipment with the support of Nicholas Kiarie, APHL biomedical engineering technical consultant, who has been instrumental in the implementation of this project. PublicHealthLabs @APHL