Lessons Learned from SLMTA Accredited Labs

National Early Infant Diagnostics Laboratory, Cameroon

Roland Masha (center), laboratory manager, with Dr. Shang Judith (left) and Laura Eno (right) from CDC-Cameroon

1.What was the hardest thing to do in order to get accredited?

To clear the non-conformities after the initial assessment e.g. to maintain the fact that an internal auditor conducted an audit of the laboratory and not an accreditation preparedness expert.

2.What was the easiest?

Writing the SOPs for the procedures in the laboratory since we were well versed in them.

3.What was the most important contributing factor to getting accredited?

Team work. There was great collaboration between the staff, laboratory management and stakeholders (partners).

4.What steps did you take?

We had a mentor - though not with the accreditation experience, that mentor was very helpful and resourceful. Only 2 of the staff had SLMTA training and could coach others. Each staff was assigned duties and responsibilities with another to oversee or assist to see the success of the tasks - there was cross mentoring and sharing of knowledge.  No short-cuts.

5.What were the biggest mistakes you made?

  • Arguing with the assessor instead of working to clear the non-conformities
  • Writing things in the policy document that were not applicable to our laboratory.
  • Failure to correct a minor con-conformity led to a major one.

6.What is the best advice you can give to others?

  • To work as a team, share challenges in regular meetings and regularly update each other on development within the process.
  • Respect of the timeframe to clear off each non-conformity. Accreditation is very possible.