The National Public Health Laboratories Center of Excellence for Calibration of Medical Equipment was launched on April 6th 2017 by the Director of Medical Services Ministry of Health Kenya.
The center of Excellence is a Ministry of health Kenya and CDC (center for Disease Control) through PEPFAR initiative to address a growing concern in the medical field on equipment management. The issue of laboratory equipment management has been an area of concern for most public laboratories which has been leading to low scores during audits and areas of non conformance during accreditation attempts.
Discussions with laboratory personnel and hospital biomedical engineers led to the following findings :
- Most laboratory equipment are precision items and hence require specialized test equipment which many public hospital maintenance departments could not afford.
- Most biomedical engineers have not undergone the specialized training to handle some of the laboratory equipment.
- cost of accessing calibration services was too high for most public hospitals
- No clear guidance on how to properly document maintenance jobs for the laboratory department.
From the above concerns the Kenya ministry of health together with CDC thought of a sustainable and cost effective program to help address the issues identified. The equipment management program was formed and with the help of CDC implementing partners APHL (Association of Public Health Laboratories) and AIHA (American International Health Alliance) the program has been a success as it addresses most of the concerns raised with equipment management.
The equipment management program has three key categories:
- NPHL center of excellence. A calibration center where public hospital laboratory equipment are sent to be calibrated annually for free. Current equipment being calibrated are as follows: Bio-safety cabinets, Pipettes, Timers, Thermometers, Centrifuges, Analytical Balances, Refrigerators, Freezers, Hot air ovens, Incubators & water baths.
- Capacity Building biomedical engineers. One of the major findings was that hospital biomedical engineers had not undergone specialized training to handle laboratory equipment and most facilities didn’t have sufficient test equipment to aid in the maintenance of laboratory equipment. Through PEPFAR funding a national curriculum to refresh biomedical engineers on maintenance of laboratory equipment was developed. 42 public hospitals maintenance departments across Kenya have been provided with specialized test equipment to be used in the maintenance of laboratory equipment.
- Mentorship of biomedical engineers. After public hospitals biomedical engineers have undergone refresher training through the developed curriculum they are mentored to ensure that the service delivery standards are upheld. This is through constant interactions with the two CDC implementing partners APHL & AIHA.