#Jamaica, December 29, 2017 – Kingston – The Caribbean Public Health Agency-Drug Testing Laboratory in Jamaica (CARPHA-DTL) has been certified by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), as the first pharmaceutical laboratory in the island. Accreditation of CARPHA for laboratory testing and calibration techniques is in compliance with the ISO 17025 standard, and marks a significant endorsement of the agency’s capabilities to test the quality of pharmaceutical finished products in order to ensure safe and consistent care of patients. These products include capsules, tablets, creams, ointments, suspensions, syrups, and lotions.
The JANAAC certification will allow the agency to act as the gatekeeper to test and prevent illegal/counterfeit prescriptions, drug, medicines and other pharmaceuticals being circulated in Jamaica and the wider region. As the single regional public health agency for the Caribbean, CARPHA’s international accreditation for laboratory testing will mean that access to healthcare and essential quality medicines/pharmaceutical products will be improved and be of greater standard. This is critical for the Caribbean population’s well-being and optimal health.
CARPHA’S Executive Director, Dr. C. James Hospedales, says the agency stands to benefit greatly from the certification, which, he notes, distinguishes it from other pharmaceutical quality-control facilities. He says the agency plays a critical role in providing valuable information that informs decision-making and influences policy across the region in order to strengthen health systems, thereby promoting healthy lives and well-being.
Dr. Hospedales, who was speaking at the accreditation ceremony held recently at the lab’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew, says that the initiative aligns with CARICOM’s strategy of advancing initiatives for health and wellness by ensuring access to safe, reliable medicines. He notes that member States will have access to data to undertake evidence-based approaches to enable early warning, risk reduction and management of national public health risks.
He says, further, that the accreditation can advance health tourism in Jamaica. “The future of health tourism is real, and Jamaica, through CARPHA, can be the forerunners in the region in this arena,” the Executive Director says.
Meanwhile, Dr. Hospedales informs that CARPHA will be introducing a new surveillance programme in 2018. This, he informs, will allow the laboratory to monitor medicines such as those used for the control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Chairman of the JANAAC Accreditation Council, Simon Roberts, says the entity is pleased to celebrate the achievement with CARPHA.
“The accreditation certificate signifies that you’ve not only received recognition from JANAAC but (also), by extension, the signatories to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ILAC MRA),” he notes.
He explains that ILAC MRA provides “significant technical underpinning to the calibration, testing, medical testing and inspection results of the accredited conformity assessment bodies, and, in turn, delivers confidence in the acceptance of results”. This supports the provision of local or national services such as safe food and clean drinking water, energy, and delivering healthcare and social care.
Mr. Roberts adds that the endorsement from the governing body puts Jamaica and CARPHA well on the international radar of healthcare.
“In addition, the ILAC MRA enhances the acceptance of products across national borders. By removing the need for additional calibration, testing, medical testing and/or inspection of imports and exports, technical barriers to trade are reduced. In this way, the ILAC MRA promotes international trade, and the free-trade goal of ‘accredited once, accepted everywhere’ can be realized. This offers potential for the growth of the commerce industry,” he points out.
He is urging the CARPHA team to “seek to expand the scope of tests at your earliest to ensure that the other unaccredited tests will enjoy the same approval”.
Others commending CARPHA include Director of the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), Professor John Lindo; and Technical Officer for Accreditation, CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Stephen Farquharson.
JANAAC was incorporated in 2007 as the National Accreditation Body of Jamaica, offering services to the country and the entire Caribbean region.
The only internationally recognized accreditation body in the English-speaking Caribbean, it is a full member of the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) and ILAC. The entity has signed multilateral arrangements with the IAAC and MRAs with the ILAC that allow for international acceptance of the results from JANAAC-accredited laboratories to the ISO/(International Electrotechnical Commission) IEC 17025 standard for testing labs, and the ISO 15189 standard for medical labs.
It supports the effective development of the Jamaican economy by providing Conformity Assessment Bodies, such as testing laboratories with internationally recognized accreditation services, thereby fostering global confidence and facilitating trade between Jamaica and its regional and international partners.
By: Peta Gay Rowe (JIS)