Several Testing Laboratories, Certification Bodies and Clinical Laboratories received Accreditation Certificates from the Minister of Technology and Research Pavithra Wanniarachchi at the World Accreditation Day Celebrations held recently in Colombo. The Sri Lanka Accreditation Board which is the National Accreditation Authority for Sri Lanka functioning under the purview of the Ministry of Science and Technology organised the event.
According to SLAB the conformity assessment procedures adopted worldwide in trade and services demands that testing, inspection and certification are carried out in a transparent and reliable manner, which could demonstrate their competence and reliability. Functions of a National Accreditation Body are to assess the competence of Conformity Assessment Bodies (Laboratories, Inspection and Certification Bodies) performing within the National quality infrastructure and declare their competence.
Wrong choice of a laboratory and erroneous or inaccurate reports may have adverse consequences and even result in fatality. Since there had been increasing concerns in the Health sector regarding the reliability of test results of medical (clinical) testing laboratories, the accreditation scheme carried out by SLAB is timely and typical for the medical industry. The needed assurance with regard to reliability and credibility could be ensured through this system of Accreditation according to the accepted quality management principles applicable to medical/clinical laboratories.
In his welcome address Chairman SLAB Didul Kodagoda said that they have received positive responses from the Ministry of Health during discussions regarding accreditation of medical laboratories. Health Ministry has now identified five government hospital laboratories for accreditation and SLAB has already conducted awareness programmes for the staff of these laboratories. These laboratories are developing their Quality Management Systems now and they would be in a position to apply for accreditation by early next year.
He went on to say that the theme for the World Accreditation Day this year is accreditation supporting safe food and clean drinking water. Here again Ministry of Health is the controlling authority of the regulations pertaining to the food act. SLAB to-date has accredited more than 20 food and water testing laboratories and two certification bodies for food safety management system certification. Test data provided by an accredited organisation is accurate and reliable. Making use of the services of these organisations for obtaining the necessary data for monitoring the implementation of the food act would certainly build up public confidence of the system. Also it would encourage more testing laboratories to seek accreditation thereby facilitating the regulators to make correct decisions when implementing regulations he further said. Kodagoda requested all regulatory bodies to take the necessary steps to incorporate accreditation into their regulations.
Making the keynote address SLAB former Director/CEO Sanath Mendis said, “A well-developed National Quality Infrastructure is necessary in assuring safety and quality of products and services on offer and to support national development efforts; and Accreditation is a vital element in this system. Quality infrastructure refers here to all aspects of metrology, standardisation, testing, and quality management including certification and accreditation. This includes both public and private institutions and the regulatory framework within which they operate.
The national quality infrastructure is to be seen as part of the whole requisite infrastructure of the country, with the same level of importance as roads and highways, communication, schools, basic medical services, etc. Without a supporting National Quality Infrastructure neither development nor competitiveness are possible. Adequate infrastructure is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for enhancing the creation and application of science, technology and innovation in development. As a developing country our key concern should be to promote and assist small and medium-sized enterprises because, unlike most large companies, they usually do not have the capacity and resources to conduct all the necessary quality controls themselves and they must rely on external services. Developing countries like Sri Lanka, looking to attract foreign investments, must keep in mind the need for supporting infrastructure facilities – and this includes quality infrastructure – which is one of the key factors foreign investors will consider before investment decisions are made.”