‘Guyana marks another milestone with quality laboratory services’
--Says Health Minister By Shawnel Cudjoe
Guyana Chronicle
June 8, 2004

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THE Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Laboratory Services yesterday launched the Proficiency Testing (PT) Coordination Scheme at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), New Garden Street.

Delivering the feature address was Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who noted that Guyana marks another milestone in the continuing effort to provide the population with quality, and cost-effective laboratory services.

He noted that in the past, there was no effort to attain high quality in labs, putting the country behind other CARICOM territories in this regard.

According to the Minister, because of lack of good laboratories and technicians, major concerns were raised about testing results received.

“A person tested at one laboratory with high cholesterol cannot suddenly the same day or the next day have low cholesterol. But this was everyday in Guyana,” Ramsammy noted.

He pointed out that the result of the important steps taken by the country in the 1990s have become manifest over the last several years, and asserted that with the Proficiency Testing Coordination Scheme introduced yesterday, an intra laboratory shared testing mechanism has been initiated.

“In this scheme, we will share actual patient samples between labs in order to test precision,” the Minister explained.

He told the gathering that although perfect laboratory results cannot be guaranteed every time, a high probability of accurate results can be attained.

In closing, Dr Ramsammy said that the provision of timely health access is a challenge that the Ministry will gladly embrace, and he described yesterday’s launching as “a step in that direction”.

Laboratory Director Ms. Yvette Irving in her presentation on PT said it is a method of determining the quality of lab results by providing testing material to be examined. It is also an important part of management systems, she said.

According to Ms Irving, the purposes of PT are to monitor and improve test performance, and to encourage good performances among others.

Laboratories can benefit by improving the quality of service through confidence building of staff, clinicians and patients, and increased communication with clinicians, other labs and vendors. The scheme is an important source of education and training, and it also identifies problems with equipment in order to correct deficiencies.

For staffers of laboratories, Irving said, the scheme provides valid samples that can be retained and used for training, monitoring, reproducing and improving staff performance, identifying training needs within a laboratory for individual staff, and externally for groups of laboratories, among others.

She also advised the various representatives of hospitals to use PT correctly, which (use) includes evaluating the lab’s processes.

Ms. Irving stressed that in Guyana, (the staff of) laboratories need education as to the importance of Proficiency Testing. She cautioned, though, that the various materials necessary for the process are very expensive.

Laboratories registered for Proficiency Testing are: Eureka, Guyana Medical Laboratories, the Central Medical Laboratory, the New Amsterdam Hospital, the West Demerara Hospital, the Linden Hospital Complex, the Suddie Hospital, and the Bartica Hospital.

The mandate of the coordinating body is to work closely with the Guyana Bureau of Standards to have more laboratories volunteer to participate in this scheme, to use the European Union Lab Strengthening Project activities to sensitise laboratory technicians to Proficiency Testing and its importance for effective functioning of laboratories, and to use the results of the process to improve the quality of service given by laboratories,

The Director of Standards and Technical Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Davis, also addressed yesterday’s ceremony.