Clinical Microbiology Proficiency Testing and its sister program: Program Office for Laboratory Quality Management, have for many years had a positive international profile. In part, that derived from working collaborations with the US Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Saudi Quality Council, the International Organization for Standardization and our own Standards Council of Canada. CMPT has a twenty year record of bringing people from around the world to Vancouver to provide them with EQA training.
Over the last few years, we have participated with the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) through its center at the Department of Global Health, University of Washington.
I-TECH, a collaborative program between the University of Washington and the University of California, San Francisco, started in the 1990s and is now a multinational program with over 600 staff working in Africa, Asia, and around the world providing guidance and training in Health Leadership and Management, Health Systems Strengthening, Health Workforce Development, Implementation Science and Evaluation and Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Disease.
Working towards laboratory strengthening, UBC has been working with I-TECH through our two programs which have been providing quality management training and assistance with proficiency testing.
In the summer of 2017, Dr. Noble joined the I-TECH team lead by Dr. Lucy Perrone in Lusaka, Zambia participating in a kick-off workshop to introduce the attendees to Quality Management principles. We continued to provide our 21-week on-line course for 15 Quality Assurance Officers in Zambian medical laboratories, ending in early December. It was a tremendously successful exercise with learning on both sides.
In 2018, we started working on a similar program with the Ministry of Health in Cambodia with a workshop held in Siem Reap, a young (1500s) thriving city in an ancient land with a mixture of French, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures. The workshop was held for 24 Quality Assurance Officers and Laboratory Managers from hospitals throughout Cambodia. There are strong ties with the United States, and English is a “common” second language but the primary language is Khmer, which created the necessity of providing the workshop through the aid of simultaneous translation. It was not perfect, but all-in-all, the key messages were communicated and well received.
In collaboration with additional partners, we have been asked to start training certain central laboratories in Cambodia and in Africa to develop their own microbiology proficiency testing programs. While governments are increasingly aware of issues of antibiotic resistance through One-Health programmes (combined programs for animal and human care), authorities cannot get a grasp on the levels of local resistance without having information and that means that local medical laboratories have to improve their services. Implementing both quality management and local EQA programs will play a big part in the evolution of laboratory change.
CMPT and POLQM are excited to have the opportunity to participate in these programs as we broaden our education, research, and outreach to wider parts of the medical laboratory world.