Kenya highlight importance of medical laboratory service


Kenyan official said on Friday that recent developments in the health sector have made the medical laboratory sector a key component in health care delivery.

Medical Services Minister Professor Anyang Nyong'o cited the developments in demographic changes in the labour force, increased global competition, experiments with new organizational arrangements and public policy attention to work force quality healthcare as some factors contributing to the success of medical laboratory.

"The profession of specialist medical laboratories is a modern and emerging profession," Nyong'o said in Nairobi when he opened a Medical Laboratory Stakeholders Forum.

The forum which seeks to ensure compliance quality medical laboratory practice in Kenya and to also raise awareness about the role of medical laboratory services in the provision of effective healthcare.

The minister said current medical laboratories have become more sophisticated than those laboratories which were found before. He said while advancing new discoveries and developing scientific knowledge, the role of the researcher continues to change and expand scientific research.

Nyong'o said that to maintain the integrity of the laboratory process, the medical laboratory scientists should therefore be able to recognize factors that could introduce error and reject contaminated or sub-standard specimen, as well as investigating discrepant results and analysis of human fluid samples using techniques available to the clinical laboratory.

The forum brings together all stakeholders in the medical laboratory discipline and precedes the Africa Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) conference to be held in Durban, South Africa in December 2012.

The objectives of the forum are to launch the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board's (KMLTTB) strategic plan, to develop partnerships in the delivery of quality medical laboratory services, to validate the equipments and reagents and accreditation of diagnostic services, to establish the role of quality laboratory services in healthcare in the attainment of the MDGs and to encourage investment in medical laboratory service.

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Nyong'o said a few years back there were too many unregulated players in the procurement of reagents and equipment used in medical laboratories in Kenya, a scenario he said created confusion in the laboratory services in the country, leading to compromised quality of laboratory test results.

"To bring that situation under control, a subsidiary legislation which is now at the stage of developing validation processes and collaboration was gazetted in October 2011, and whose main focus is to ensure vigilance in the importation and local production as well as supply of the tools."

He said medical laboratory scientists are skilled personnel who perform a full range of laboratory tests from simple prenatal blood tests to more complex teats to undercover diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and cancer.

"They are also responsible for confirming the accuracy of teat results and reporting laboratory findings alongside operating complex electronic equipment, computers and precision instruments costing millions of dollars."

The Chief of the Global AIDS Program's International Laboratory Branch at the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta John Nkengasong decried the fact that between 70 and 80 percent of clinical decisions are based on laboratory diagnosis yet the lab has been so neglected.

"In most hospitals laboratories are the main source of income yet they suffer from utmost neglect. The returns they generate must be invested in the laboratories."

He said Kenya, being the country with the most developed laboratory services in the region should share its assets with other member countries in order to pull them along.

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"To whom much is given, much is expected. The fact that in the next few months, Kenya will be hosting an accredited laboratory and that out of the 24 laboratories in the sub-Saharan Africa, 23 are in Kenya is testimony to the country's advanced laboratory service."

More than a million medical laboratory tests that identify and measure disease causing agents are performed each year in Kenya.