We are really proud because on 10th February we received the news we were all anxiously waiting for: our DREAM laboratories in Blantyre and Balaka received the ISO 515189 accreditation from the international certification organisation SADCAS.
So, together with the Para Criança centre in Maputo, which was the first one, three DREAM laboratories now have this important certification. The two DREAM laboratories in Malawi are the only accredited laboratories in the whole country that offer their services to the general public. This result is even more extraordinary if one considers that the one in Balaka is in a rural area and not in a big city, and that all its services are offered free of charge. It is a really big step forward in making high quality services accessible for everyone, even for the poorest people and even in rural areas.
But from a practical point of view, what does the fact that these laboratories are accredited mean?
In the field of diagnostic laboratories, like our DREAM laboratories, accreditation is a way of demonstrating our competence to our patients, national governments, implementing partners, donors and in general to all the institutions in the sector.
It took 10 years to achieve this recognition, that’s a long time.
Imagine a gymnast who wants to qualify for the Olympics. This athlete will have to pass countless tests. In order to do this, he will continuously repeat his exercises, he will try and standardise his technique following the criteria required by the sports regulations so his exercises can be perfect. This way the gymnast will be able to avoid making mistakes, his results will be more and more precise and in the end he will be able to carry out a very high quality, flawless exercise, which will allow him to take part in the most prestigious competition in the world.
Like for this athlete, the DREAM laboratories, during these years of great commitment, have had to pass a lot of tests in order to get the SADCAS certification. For the last test, during the accreditation process for the laboratories in Malawi, we got 4 stars.
In this acknowledgement process, the laboratories have to develop and document their ability to identify, respond promptly and report diseases that they deal with and that can have an impact on public health. Therefore, all the public and private laboratories that carry out voluntary work and support the national healthcare systems by diagnosing the most common diseases in Africa, undergo regular audits. These laboratories are evaluated with a system that combines all the relevant aspects, from the management of the documentation, and gives a score of one to 5 stars, based on the score achieved with the laboratory’s overall performance, according to a checklist that corresponds to the ISO 15189-2012 standard.
Therefore the quality of the results and the excellence of our DREAM laboratories, which has always been an intrinsic characteristic of the work carried out, is now recognised all over the world.
We would like to thank all the Blantyre and Balaka laboratory staff, our “Olympic athletes”, who have done an enormous (and sometimes very tiring) job on this 10 year journey.
All this represents a new achievement carried out by DREAM, not because we are looking for glory but for the good of our patients. In fact, accrediting the quality of the work carried out in the laboratory is an expression of respect and love for their life.