Despite the vast number of laboratories in Africa, there is a lack of effective regulation, evaluation and accreditation to ensure consistently accurate laboratory test results. In the last few years, finances from large programs such as the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has addressed a major obstacle to high quality laboratory infrastructure within which to roll out good laboratory practices and accreditation. As laboratories move toward better quality, laboratories can seek accreditation at their level of performance and gradually move up or down the tiers depending on their level of compliance with the ultimate gold of attaining international accreditation. This WHO-AFRO stepwise accreditation uses a standardized checklist based on ISO 15189/17025 and streamlined to the challenges unique to Africa. It covers the 12 quality elements of document and records, management review, organization and personnel, client management and customer service, equipment, internal audit, purchasing and inventory, process control and internal and external quality assessment, information management, corrective action, occurrence /incident management and process improvement, and facility & safety with clear benefits and opportunities for international accreditation. The African Society of Laboratory Medicine empowers laboratories in Africa to work towards achieving accreditation in collaboration with WHO-AFRO through a Stepwise Progress Towards Accreditation Program (SLMTA) adapted for PEPFAR supported countries. It provides audit tools, guidelines and quality management system templates and engages member countries to rapidly endorse and implement international standards for new diagnostic technologies.
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