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Strengthening public private partnerships in health is important as it strengthens the continuity of quality and efficient health services delivery while bridging the gap when it comes to cost sharing, resources, human resources, and capacity development.

A Laboratory Quality Manager training, held in Suva, Fiji bought together for the first-time laboratory practitioners from the private and public health sector in September. This training was facilitated by the Pacific Community (SPC) with funding support from the European Union’s (EU) Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN) project.

This weeklong training was attended by 10 laboratory quality managers with a focus on the World Health Organisation guide for Stepwise Laboratory Improvement Process Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA). This is an audit tool which allows laboratories to assess and improve the quality of work and achieve ISO standards in the detection, identification, and reporting of diseases.

Keshvi Lal Manager for Health Plus Diagnostics said that as of 2022 private labs have come under the government of Fiji’s private-public partnership (PPP) scheme. “This training is very timely as it helps bridge the gaps with any processes that are not aligned to the guidelines for standardization. It will also strengthen existing relationships and make sure that our current practises are in accordance with requirements.”

Ravendra Prasad, Laboratory Manager for the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva said that this training has helped him identify gaps that currently exist. “With the knowledge gained I will be able to make these changes and prepare the laboratory well for an audit. The public-private partnership could provide opportunities for inter- laboratory testing of samples as part of quality control for example.”

The SLIPTA assessment tool provides a thorough and detailed assessment and it will help laboratories achieve ISO 15189 accreditation.

Dr Eka Buadromo Team Leader for Laboratory Strengthening Program at SPC’s Public Health Division said, “Covid 19 pandemic has shown us how private laboratories became an important extension of public health service in the Pacific: taking on-board the loads of COVID-19 and other public health disease testing. So is the importance of providing this collaborative trainings and capacity development opportunities for both public and private laboratories that will confirm and inform countries about the presence of diseases of public health importance.”

The subregional Pacific Public Health Surveillance (PPHSN) laboratory network Hybrid meeting is currently underway in Nadi, Fiji. This is attended by PICTs heads of laboratory service to reflect, provide updates and share lessons learnt on laboratory service management during COVID-19 pandemic. This meeting is being hosted by SPC and co-supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with funding support from Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

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