Dignitaries and laboratory staff gather to celebrate the Center's launch. Photo by Rufus Nyaga
Kenya NPHL Launches National Equipment
by Edwin Ochieng, laboratory technical consultant, Global Health; Nicholas M. Kiarie, biomedical engineering technical
consultant, Global Health; and Esther Gathinji, senior specialist, Global Health
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.
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.
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.