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Bring quality to the masses

As we move forward in 2021, the learnings of the year 2020 would resonate with us in the decade to come. As the nation embraced the pandemic, it brought to us a forced learning about the importance of quality in the healthcare, hospitals, diagnostic, and life sciences sectors.

The nation understood that the demand for quality in diagnostic, healthcare sectors is quintessential for a better quality of life and to improve the standards of living. I believe we would witness an increased call for quality from the populace living in two, three tier cities, and villages.

National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) being an accreditation body provides accreditation services to testing and calibration laboratories (in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017), medical testing laboratories (in accordance with ISO 15189), proficiency testing providers–PTP (in accordance with ISO/IEC 17043), and reference material producers–RMP (in accordance with ISO 17034).

Further, ICMR mandated NABL accreditation as an important criterion for listing laboratories capable of testing the RNA viruses through RT-PCR technique. This along with the exemptions provided to laboratories during the lock down further emphasizes the critical role played by the diagnostic sector in providing the necessary testing infrastructure to the nation. NABL has accredited more than 1100 private medical testing laboratories which ensured adequate testing capability in all the regions of the nation.

Urban locations, metropolitan cities usually enjoy a greater availability of medical testing facilities and these facilities are eager to take up the accreditation to distinguish their brand image and improve their brand identity. This is usually not the case with laboratories in other parts of the nation. However, with the observed increase in need for quality, NABL started entry level laboratory program for medical testing laboratories to encourage them to come forward for accreditation.

NABL Medical (Entry Level) Testing Laboratories {NABL M(EL)T Labs} program aims to provide the recognition to such laboratories which are in small towns and tier three cities to distinguish themselves and promote their brand by adhering to the basic quality requirements. This program is based on the laboratory’s successful participation in a Proficiency Testing Program and other NABL requirements. The process is optimized and made simple that in a couple of days’ time, the laboratory can apply and receive the accreditation by the end of the week.

This program was designed keeping in mind the aspirations and acknowledgement which people understood during the pandemic that quality alone ensures accurate testing and value for the service.

NABL accreditation of laboratories in accordance with ISO 15189 provides international equivalence of the laboratory quality system. Further, to ensure the sustainability of accredited medical testing laboratories and to encourage laboratories which understand the simple requirements of accreditation, we launched two new categories of ‘micro and mini’ in addition to the existing categories of small, medium, and large. These new categories are to encourage the existing diagnostic laboratories to come forward for accreditation.

The availability of products such as PPE, masks, which meet the requirements and calibration of medical equipment to support the healthcare industry are equally important. In this regard, NABL accredited testing and calibration laboratories play a crucial role in ensuring the quality of the consumables and help in betterment of the diagnostic infrastructure.

Moving forward, competent people are poised to become the driving force in the betterment of healthcare infrastructure as the realization on the importance of quality in sample collection, transportation, and testing is bound to increase exponentially. NABL could act on many counterfeit certificates with the information received due to the increased level of awareness among people. We are looking forward to further improve the awareness about NABL accreditation aimed to bring quality to the masses.

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