A project’s success or failure hinges on one critical ingredient – motivated staff committed to quality results.
This essential element was present in full force for IQLS’s pilot project “Laboratory Quality Management Systems Training and Mentoring in India,” which took place from August 2015 to June 2016. The project’s purpose was to strengthen simultaneously the operations of eight medical colleges through targeted training and long-distance mentoring but without relying on full-time onsite foreign expertise.
IQLS conducted three in-depth training modules during the project: Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation (LQSI) tool, laboratory management, and biosafety and biorisk management. A biosafety implementation guideline and a generic quality manual were also developed.
One training participant said: “The training is one of the most in-depth and extensive trainings that we have had on quality management. The sessions are very interactive and push us to implement quality in our lab settings. The tutors don’t fail to add a personal touch, which is very nice.”
But sustainable change doesn’t just happen with training alone. It has to be coupled with initial and final assessments—to get a baseline and demonstrate progress—and realistic action plans, including projects to be completed by the next onsite training.
The assessment used for this project was the WHO’s Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation1 (LQSI) with a focus on “Phase 1: Assuring Technical Competency of Tests and Analyses Performed” and “Phase 2: Implementation of Quality Control Measures and Traceability.” The results showed a 43% increase in overall progress in Phase 1 and 30% overall increase in Phase 2. Clearly, the dedicated laboratory staff not only understood the training materials but also were able to put theory into practice.
As one participant said about the assessments, “It raises awareness among the staff regarding the importance of quality in every aspect of specimen and data processing.”
Mentoring was another critical component of this project’s success. A team of 2 IQLS foreign experts and an Indian IQLS consultant based at National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi answered questions, provided support materials, and helped the staff members reach the next milestone.
Dr. Eshani Dewan from Ludhiana, India noted during the project: “…While we tried to do as much as possible, we still have a long way to go and with Dr. Antoine and Arnaud’s constant guidance and support, we are sure we will be able to make many more strides towards our ultimate goal.”
Sustainability is the name of the game. With this mind, an interactive DVD was produced, outlining the project and trainings. This DVD was designed so that staff members at any level could replicate and implement the project in their laboratories. It includes all the training materials, supplementary documentation and guidelines.
This pilot project was done in collaboration between India’s NCDC, Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), eight medical colleges, and the state authorities from Assam and Punjab States and the US CDC and IQLS.