IFCC has a project ‘Developing Quality Competence in Medical Laboratories (DQCML)’, focussed primarily on clinical laboratory services in countries with emerging economies. The overriding emphasis of the work of the project is to raise awareness of quality systems, with particular reference to ISO 15189 and medical laboratory accreditation. One way this is achieved is by providing financial support for initiatives to institute quality programmes. For example, support has been given to a collaborative project between the Australasian and Vietnamese Associations of Clinical Biochemists (AACB and VACB) to establish an external quality assessment (EQA) scheme in Vietnam. The support has enabled purchase of EQA material for distribution to laboratories in Vietnam and has funded a senior clinical biochemist from HO Chi Minh City to visit the headquarters of the Australian Chemical Pathology Quality Assurance Programmes in Adelaide, to receive training in the practical aspects of EQA scheme organisation.
The major remit of the project is to develop and provide education in the field of quality. This has predominantly been done by organising and presenting workshops, of two to three days duration, at the invitation of member National Societies of IFCC. Small teams, usually three or four people, of IFCC Officers with expertise and experience in the field of laboratory quality, have visited Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Tunisia and the Philippines in the past two years, to conduct such workshops. These have covered the basics of quality systems, the accreditation process and specific components of clinical laboratory quality, such as analytical quality and the clinical interpretation of laboratory results. The balance of the workshop content is dependent on the state of knowledge and level of progress towards the implementation of quality systems and laboratory accreditation and is agreed in advance, in consultation with senior laboratory personnel in the host countries. In November 2011, a team will visit Nepal to present a workshop which will concentrate on analytical quality. It is hoped that following this, the process of introducing EQA into routine clinical laboratory practice in that country will begin. Following the workshops, future advice and support is always available to participants through continued contact with the presentation team
The workshops have been well received in those countries visited and it has been a delight to the teaching teams to meet laboratory scientists who are so eager to learn about quality and embrace the concepts of total quality management into the work of their laboratories.
IFCC is able to fund such workshops through the generosity of its corporate members. Abbott Diagnostics sponsors the Visiting Lecturer Programme, which finances the international travel of the workshop presenters. In a further development, to incorporate distance learning into the range of learning opportunities, a web-based module on ISO15189 is being prepared in collaboration with Siemens Diagnostics.