Industry ministry rolls out accreditation programme for local laboratories, medical facilities

Industry ministry rolls out accreditation programme for local laboratories, medical facilities

Friday, January 22, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), have moved to roll out an accreditation programme for Jamaica's laboratories and medical facilities aimed at improving their capabilities to expeditiously test for the COVID-19.

This, the ministry said, comes in light of calls by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for greater collaboration and support to stave off unauthorised and unapproved COVID-19 testing facilities.

As part of the initiative, the JANAAC has introduced a Pre-Accreditation Approval Programme (PAAP), an innovation created by the agency's team of experts to bring expediency to meeting the demand for quality COVID-19 testing across the island.

The JANAAC's international recognition for the accreditation of medical and testing labs will provide the assurance that the results generated by these entities can be trusted, the ministry said.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing held at the ministry's New Kingston offices yesterday, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw said the ministry “stands ready to offer its support, recognising that any lapse in our support systems cannot be good for our tourism product, the economy or the public which seeks to obtain these services”.

Shaw noted that the ability of JANAAC to provide this accreditation is unquestionable as the agency stands as the only internationally-recognised accreditation body in the English-speaking Caribbean that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) and the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) for ISO/IEC 17025 (testing laboratories) and ISO 15189 (medical testing).

He added that the agency is also a signatory to the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement for accreditation of inspection bodies to the ISO/IEC 17020 standard.

The minister also commended the move by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association to engage the Medical Association of Jamaica, the Ministry of Health & Wellness along with private laboratories to facilitate discussions on how to increase the testing numbers to mitigate the growth of the black market for COVID-19 testing.

“Let me reiterate that my ministry is ready, able and willing to augment the work of the Ministry of Health and the wider private sector to stop the spread of unapproved testing sites,” Shaw added.

In his remarks, State Minister in the ministry, Dr Norman Dunn, said that the ministry is aware of the challenges being faced by the Government to adequately meet the public demand for fast, accurate and cost-effective testing, noting that “in light of this, the ministry pledges its support in complementing the services provided by the Ministry of Health”.

“Our role is to ensure we use the services of JANAAC to provide the private laboratories and other designated personnel that chose to respond to the Minister of Health's call to provide accredited COVID-19 testing services to meet increased demand,” Dunn said.

He added further that the government is committed to ensuring the health and safety of every Jamaican and that validation by JANAAC, as an internationally recognised accreditation body, will provide the requisite confidence to all stakeholders regarding the accuracy of tests results.

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