First laboratory quality-mentoring visit conducted in Malta through the Better Labs for Better Health initiative

WHO/Pamela Hepple

On 24-28 October 2016 a team of specialists from WHO/Europe conducted the first laboratory quality mentoring visit at the WHO-recognized National Influenza Centre at the Mater Dei Hospital in Msida, Malta. This visit is part of the Better Labs for Better Health initiative, which aims to improve laboratory services and consequently health systems and overall public health in the WHO European Region.

During the visit the team performed the following key activities:

  • discussion of goals and expectations with laboratory management and staff;
  • training of laboratory staff on laboratory quality management;
  • assessment of the virology section of the laboratory;
  • creation of a quality team, including managers from other sections of the laboratory; and
  • development of an action plan with the quality team.

The staff of the laboratory was very motivated and other sections were also interested in participating. The creation of a quality team will help the virology department with the accreditation process by facilitating cooperation and information exchange. Several quality team members observed the assessment of the virology department in order to gain auditing skills.

The next visit is scheduled for January, when the action plan will be followed up and further assessments will be made.

This activity is undertaken as part of the Better Labs for Better Health initiative in collaboration with the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution.

Background

A key method for effective and efficient strengthening of medical laboratories is the implementation of a quality management system (QMS) based on the international quality standard ISO 15189:2012. In 2014 the World Health Organization launched a web-based tool that guides laboratories through the practical day-to-day implementation of the quality management system: the Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation tool.

Even though the use of the LQSI tool minimizes the need for external assistance in the implementation process, regular mentoring remains crucial. During these mentoring visits the mentors can answer questions, help to develop action plans to overcome obstacles, perform external audits and provide training.