A major consultation on the quality of goods and services in Antigua and Barbuda on April 12, 2016, is expected to be the first step toward the establishment of a National Quality Awards for the country.
In a process being led by the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), and facilitated by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), stakeholders from across sectors including tourism, health, agriculture, business, as well as quality infrastructure development, will gather at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute for a day-long consultation on quality-related matters.
The objective of the consultation is to examine the feasibility of introducing a National Quality Awards to the country that will recognise companies and organisations for their dedication to running quality focussed operations and services, and their commitment to producing high quality products for the country and global markets. It will be addressed and opened by Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Honourable, Mr. E. P. Chet Greene at 9 a.m. The consultation runs until 4 p.m.
It is funded through the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme, being implemented in the Caribbean by CROSQ, alongside INDOCAL in the Dominican Republic, and managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB).
Mrs. Dianne Rodrigues, Director of the ABBS, which is serving as host for this meeting, noted that "the thrust of the Bureau is to offer services that can help promote a culture of quality in the country, and as such this dialogue was a step in that direction".
“We are very interested in what the various sectors have to say about this programme on which we are embarking, and we are hoping that stakeholders can see the value in what we are trying to create and actively get on board and support the process. This initiative will be very beneficial for us all,” said the Director.
"A National Quality Award could help improve the standard and quality of products and services being offered in Antigua and Barbuda, and that is for both the local and foreign markets. It has the potential as well, to be a major branding initiative for the country which is focussing its attention on improving industries and sectors like tourism, agriculture, and health services. One way of getting the kind of growth a country would want is to look at the quality of what is on offer," said Ms. Latoya Burnham, Technical Officer, Communication and Information with CROSQ.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) was on hand recently to celebrate with Eureka Medical Laboratories (EML), as the laboratory rang in its 21st year of operation by becoming the first such medical company to receive the ISO 15189 Accredited status, in Guyana.
In the ceremony held just a week ago in the South American country, CEO of EML, Mr. Andrew Boyle told the gathering of dignitaries that included Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, and staff, that it had been a long but worthwhile journey.
“The accreditation road was costly, rough and long but today we have reaped the benefits of our hard work. What a lovely and profound feeling of satisfaction that was! It is now that the work has commenced,” said the EML head.
Technical assistance was provided by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the technical implementation by the German National Metrology Institute’s (PTB) Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) 4 Project.
CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, whose regional organisation lent technical assistance to the lab to reach the accreditation, told the audience: “Tonight’s launch and celebration of the Eureka Medical Laboratories’ accreditation to the ISO 15189 standard for quality and competence in medical laboratories, bears testament to the development assistance and cooperative mechanisms of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme as we are recognising the accreditation of a second laboratory in Guyana within a mere nine months; the other laboratory being a testing laboratory – the Guyana Rice Development Board Central Laboratory.”
The CCA Scheme brings professional expertise to labs looking to get accredited, utilising personnel from the region’s quality infrastructure institutions. In the case of EML, the guidance was provided by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, whose laboratory certification programme to the GYS 170 standard, provided a stepping stone to accreditation.
Additional technical assistance to EML through CROSQ came from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme.
Congratulating EML on the achievement, Mr. Omar further remarked: “CROSQ is delighted to extend sincere congratulations to the Eureka Medical Laboratories for this remarkable achievement of being the very first medical laboratory in Guyana to be accredited to the ISO 15189 standard. This accreditation also represents the first medical laboratory to be accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) outside of Jamaica and the first medical laboratory to achieve accreditation through the CCA Scheme.”
CEO of JANAAC, Mrs. Sharonmae Shirley underscored the importance of this step to Guyana, as well as the Caribbean.
“This is important not only for trade but it is also important for tourism. It is important for health. The medical tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. The EML has now enhanced Guyana’s reach into this lucrative market.”
Minister Norton commenting on the company’s successful five-year journey to accreditation, noted that this was evidence of the quality medical service available in the country.
“For too often we take it for granted that all we need to supply is service and we forget about the quality. Eureka has proven it wrong. ... While I applaud you for the achievement that you have made, I urge you not to become complacent, but to continually improve on and expand your laboratory service,” the minister urged.
Representative of PTB, Mrs. Anett Matbadal congratulated the lab on the success, as well as the GNBS in the role it played in assisting the process.
"I am glad Eureka Medical Laboratories has achieved this and I want to acknowledge the great help that GNBS was providing, because I still remember when CROSQ together with PTB was starting to develop the CCA Scheme in the region with two national bodies in Jamaica and Trinidad, and 15 National Accreditation Focal Points in the region ... We hope this accreditation will serve you well and open markets for you and in the name of PTB I wish you all the best for the future," said Matbadal.
We, the National HIV Programme Managers and Laboratory Managers of countries in the Caribbean Region, in collaboration with CARPHA, PANCAP, CDC/PEPFAR, WHO/PAHO, UNAIDS and other partners, at the meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 20th-23rd October, 2014 to review HIV care and treatment targets and discuss ways to improve access and quality of HIV-related point of care testing (POCT):
Recognize that the Caribbean Region initiated discussions on the new UNAIDS targets (90-90-90), to lay the groundwork to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2020.
Recognize that in order to break through existing barriers to effective use of HIV related diagnostics and to accelerate the end of AIDS, the UNAIDS and other partners recently joined forces to spearhead the launch of the Diagnostics Access Initiative, that optimizes the use of innovative laboratory diagnostic tools and strategies, as critical to achieving the first and third targets.
Recognize that lack of quality assured laboratory diagnostics can continue to undermine public health, thus impacting human and social rights.
Recognize that although countries in the Caribbean Region have made tremendous progress in improving access and quality of HIV testing to meet treatment targets, there are still significant gaps to be filled, particularly in the area of quality diagnostics to meet the targets.
Acknowledge that the recently developed UNAIDS, CDC/PEPFAR and WHO/PAHO documents titled ‘Framework for Development of Policy for implementing Quality-Assured POCT’ and ‘Guidance for improving the Quality of HIV-related POCT’ will help to address the gaps.
Resolve to revise and adapt the above mentioned documents to the Caribbean context.
Resolve to create a Caribbean Technical Working Group (TWG) on Access and Quality of HIVrelated POCT to facilitate the implementation of these documents and mechanisms for the collection and analysis of data to inform progress towards achieving the targets.
Call for countries to allocate resources for improved access to quality assured HIV-related POCT to achieve consistently accurate and reliable patient test results to meet the 90-90-90 targets.
Call for countries to acknowledge that ensuring access to high quality HIV-related testing is a human right for all residents in the Caribbean Region and will yield tremendous public health benefits.
Deryck M.S. Omar, chief executive officer for the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality, has joined the ASTM International board of directors for a three year term commencing January 2016
ASTM made the announcement recently on its website, where more information can be found about the appointment. http://www.astmnewsroom.org/default.aspx?pageid=3906
Saint Lucia this afternoon put quality infrastructure, and metrology in particular, on the map in a big way, when the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards was awarded the prestigious Award for Excellent Achievements in Legal Metrology in Developing Countries’ from the International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML).
The award was accepted on behalf of Saint Lucia by Head of Metrology at the SLBS, Mr. Anselm Gittens at the Inter-American System for Metrology (SIM) General Assembly being held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The small CARICOM country, and Member State of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), is the first Caribbean island and the smallest country in the seven-year history of the award, to receive this accolade.
Although the SLBS is not a member of OIML, Mr. Gittens’ work and involvement in the international organisation has been well known for many years. An invitation has been extended for him to attend the next meeting of CIML (International Committee of Legal Metrology), which is the functional decision-making body of OIML, to present on the work done to develop legal metrology in Saint Lucia.
The OIML is the world’s premiere body for legal metrology and is an intergovernmental treaty organisation which was established to develop model regulations, standards and related documents for use by legal metrology authorities and industry. Legal metrology, which traditionally was called weights and measures, is the application of legal requirements to measurements and measuring instruments.
The award recognises what the OIML says is “steady and sustained progress in the area of legal metrology over the last 22 years”. It noted the significant contribution of the SLBS to legal metrology at the national and Caribbean levels despite Saint Lucia being a Small Island Developing State.
About the achievement, Director of the Bureau, Dr. Mkabi Walcott recently expressed the organisation’s appreciation for the recognition from such a prestigious international body, noting that such an award was the result of the commendable work of the staff of the Metrology Department over the past 22 years.
CROSQ congratulated the SLBS and Saint Lucia on the achievement, noting, “Whilst we were all well aware of the diligent efforts of the SLBS to develop a strong legal metrology system, it is fabulous to now see these energies being translated into international recognition, both for St. Lucia and by extension, the Caribbean Community.”
Conformity Assessment Bodies across CARIFORUM States were encouraged on Monday to work together to build a stronger network to improve the quality and ease of regional and international trade.
The advice came from CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar, as the first ever Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week kicked off in Trinidad and Tobago this morning.
Mr. Omar further emphasized the need for harmonization of standards, processes and procedures, along with mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures covering goods and services as critical to facilitate trade.
Conformity Assessment Week, from November 2 – 6, is being hosted in Trinidad and Tobago, with support from the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, which is managed in the Caribbean by CROSQ, the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) and German Metrology Institute, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesandstalt (PTB). The week’s events are being held in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), under the theme “Advancing Caribbean Trade Through Quality Assurance”.
CEO of the TTBS, Mr. Theodore Reddock told the more than 40 participants in the workshop that, “the road to regional quality infrastructure”, actually started with the metrology group trying to develop a regional project and along the way attracted assistance from Germany, and North America and eventually broadened to include other aspects of quality infrastructure as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement and the European Union.
“I think we also need to reflect on the significance of what is happening now because in the process of developing regional quality infrastructure, conformity assessment is where the rubber really starts to hit the road. The theory is finished and the esoteric ideas have been discussed and now we getting down to the nitty-gritty – how are we going to be really positively affecting the region as a whole … When we talk about health and safety, the protection of the environment, education, all of these things that are important to us are major conformity assessment activities,” the CEO noted.
CROSQ Council Sponsor for regional quality assurance schemes, Mr. Robert Medford, also CEO of the Grenada Bureau of Standards, stated: “As our market space becomes more challenged, integrating the role of conformity assessment will be a critical factor, and we must ensure that proper systems or processes are in place. Without these conformity assessment systems and processes, realizing the full benefits of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be difficult.”
PTB’s Head of Technical Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. Valqui noted the growth in quality infrastructure in the region, as he congratulated the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards which recently claimed the International Organisation for Legal Metrology (OIML) Award for Excellent Achievement in Legal Metrology in Developing Countries. Dr. Valqui underscored the importance of conformity assessment in further advancing quality infrastructure in the region and thanked the European Union for all their development support in this respect.
The key event during this week of activities is the launch and inaugural meeting of the Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) Committee.
The newly formed committee, which falls under the ambit of CROSQ, was established with the responsibility to develop the regional conformity assessment infrastructure as it relates to testing, inspection, certification and market surveillance. This meeting will provide the definition, scope and goals of the CANCAB, along with developing the strategic framework of the regional conformity assessment infrastructure.
Additionally, the week will include an Organisation of American States (OAS) FEMCIDI Programme sponsored regional workshop entitled “Conformity Assessment in National Processes – Building Regional Competence in the Disciplines of Conformity Assessment”. The workshop will bring together both private and public sector, including regulators and business support institutions, to introduce participants to the national, regional and international considerations for the preparation and application of conformity assessment.
The working meetings will end on Friday, with the 3rd Meeting of the Technical Implementation Group for Conformity Assessment under the 10th EDF TBT Programme, which will develop a work plan for the period January 2016 to March 2017.
Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week 2015 represents a major milestone for the development of quality infrastructure within the region, as efforts are made to advance Caribbean trade through quality assurance.
CROSQ’s Technical Officer for Conformity Assessment, Mr. Trumel Redmond, expressed joy at the high turnout of the conformity assessment bodies from both the private and public sector across the region for this important week of activities.