PA Monday, February 17, 2003
The East African

Aga Khan, NEQAS Pool Resources to Ensure Quality in Laboratory Tests

The Aga Khan Hospital Nairobi Laboratory, has been working with the National External Quality Assurance Scheme (NEQAS) in the UK, the Centres for Disease Control in US, and the Aga Khan University in Pakistan to ensure that the clinical tests carried out by the laboratory meet international quality standards.

The NEQAS covers haematology work where tests are done for blood disorders such as anaemia, leukaemia, sickle cell disease and parasitic infections in the blood. The scheme requires the Aga Khan Hospital to analyse blood samples submitted by NEQAS to check the accuracy of the work carried out by the hospitalís laboratory.

The samples, together with the laboratory results, are returned to the UK for assessment by NEQAS. Results of the assessment can be made available to doctors and patients for scrutiny.

Maira Bholla, the laboratory manager at the Aga Khan Hospital Nairobi, said, "Our work is supported by five consultants. Dr Malkit Riyat, who studied haematology in Glasgow in the mid 1980s, heads this team. He gives advice on blood transfusion and management of blood cancers, cancer of the lymph glands and anaemia. Haematology work also includes blood grouping and screening for hepatitis, HIV and malaria."

"Investigations for bacteria and parasitic infections come under Dr Revathi, a consultant microbiologist. She advises on the most suitable medicines to prescribe in these infections and also oversees the Molecular Biology Section where the amount of HIV virus in HIV positive patients is monitored.

"Dr Gontier, a consultant in clinical chemistry, backs the Clinical Chemistry Section where chemical analysis of blood and other body fluids is carried out to assess cholesterol, blood sugar, drug and hormone levels and indicators for some cancers. The histology consultants are Dr Rana and Dr Sayed, who test for the detection of cancer and other conditions by working on tissues and body fluids."

The technical work in all these areas is carried out by 24 qualified technologists. The laboratory offers a 24-hour service without extra charge for work outside normal office hours.

A monthly average of 54,000 tests is carried out at the Aga Khan Hospital Nairobi Laboratory, which is one of the largest private laboratories in East and Central Africa.

The modern, highly automated facility was built and equipped in 1999 at a cost of over Ksh300 million ($3.75 million) with the objective of being the leading referral centre for clinical laboratory services in East Africa.

The laboratory equipment is regularly upgraded to meet international standards and some of the work is fully automated.