One of the latest developments in the assessment of the health sector is an activity-based audit report of the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL). The report cites the main goal of the NPHL as “providing high quality clinical and public health laboratory testing services which is highly efficient, effective and in accordance with international standards”
Below we’ve listed 5 key points from the Auditor-General’s appraisal of the lab’s fulfilment of its core functions:
- Although the Health Facilities (Medical Laboratories) Act was passed in 2005, it is yet to be properly implemented and as such there is no specific legislative framework upon which laboratories in Jamaica operate. The Act is reported to be under legal review for amendment causing implementation delays.
- Inadequate lab supplies, inadequate water supply, a lack of staff, and unreliable equipment all contributed to the lab’s failure to meet the established turnaround time for 5 of 11 areas of testing, increasing the risk of delayed diagnosis and treatment and causing a significant backlog of cases to be tested.
- Members of staff working in the Histology Department face risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals and fumes due to a non-functioning laboratory fume extractor. Due to electrical problems, the extractor has been non-functional for a year.
- 9 of 13 strategies for the modernization of the laboratory, scheduled for completion by 2015, remain unfinished, resulting in failure to achieve the lab’s goal of modernized and effective operations.
- A lack of an updated organizational structure and job descriptions have caused confusion for the staff in fulfilling their duties, particularly as it relates to reporting and a proper chain-of-command.
So far as addressing these issues, the report included 4 recommendations. In short they were:
- Fast-tracking the review of the Health Facilities (Medical Laboratories) Act and Regulations so as to properly implement it as soon as possible.
- Reassessment of strategic priorities given the limited resources available, so as to make readjustments where possible.
- Fast-tracking the review of the proposed Organisational Chart and Job Descriptions for the Consultants and Medical Technologists in order to establish clear chain-of-command.
- Collaboration between the NPHL and the MoH to improve its supply chain management system, maintenance of its cooling and other equipment, and the supply of other laboratory commodities.
The full report is available here.