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NABL launches Medical Entry Level Testing Labs Programme for small medical testing labs towards quality assurance

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Thursday, December 8, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) has launched voluntary scheme namely “NABL Medical Entry Level Testing M(EL)T Labs Programme” for small medical testing laboratories towards enhancing quality assurance and hence quality healthcare diagnostic services in rural areas and small towns.

The programme will also sensitize the medical testing laboratories to perform basic tests with quality practices and access to quality health care in rural areas and small towns.

“This entry level accreditation scheme for basic composite small medical laboratories in an effort to encourage diagnostic laboratories to perform basic tests and adopt quality practices, thereby improving the country’s healthcare system at the grassroot level,” according to an official.

NABL M(EL)T Lab Programme is an entry-level programme for medical laboratories that recognizes laboratories for basic routine tests based on successful proficiency testing (PT) performance. This scheme is an independent quality assurance scheme, which is not covered under Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) & International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) MRA.

The existing scheme has been revised and now this scheme is based on satisfactory proficiency testing (PT) performance and valid for one cycle of three years. The Programme is relevant and very much required as the exact number of pathology and diagnostic labs in India is unknown.

According to sources, there are around 100,000 of them. Eighty percent of them are said to be small, 18 percent are medium, and only two percent are big. The majority of small laboratories undertake routine/basic testing and are located in distant places.

Rural and urban regions have unequal access to healthcare. While city dwellers can choose between public and private laboratories, the rural population has significantly fewer options. As a result, the contribution of small laboratories doing basic tests to the requirements of rural and small-town populations is considerable.

As per the programme guidelines, laboratory application will be reviewed by NABL and decision on recognition will be taken based on performance in proficiency testing. During the recognition period (within three years), on-site assessment (surveillance) will be conducted.

NABL will only recommend those tests in the scope of the laboratory which are available in the scope of the NABL accredited PT provider. Further, regarding the calibration certificate of equipment it is recommended to calibrate the equipment from the calibrating laboratory for which it is accredited.

The authenticity regarding the scope of calibration laboratory and accredited PT provider can be verified from NABL website. Once a Certificate is issued to the laboratory the details will also appear in NABL 900 which is available on NABL website under publication/document which is updated on a monthly basis.


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