Nigerian Zonal Laboratory Moves toward International Accreditation

Oct 2016
Mr. Nwachukwu seventh from the right with his laboratory staff and the PQM team during one of the trainings in Agulu Photo credit: USP/PQM Staff

In July 2016, Mr. Nwachukwu, head of the zonal laboratory for the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Agulu, received great news from his boss, the Director of Laboratory Services of the NAFDAC. The email message read: "The Agulu Zonal Laboratory has made NAFDAC proud today by emerging the best in round 57 scheme of Pharmassure‑Pharmaceutical Proficiency Testing."

For Mr. Nwachukwu, this was one of the greatest achievements of his career. Prior to July 2016, the Agulu zonal laboratory played a small part in the overall quality control of medicines at NAFDAC. So, the fact that the little known village of Agulu would soon have a critical role in Nigeria was a dream come true for Mr. Nwachukwu. The laboratory scored 100 percent in all the areas assessed, a key step in the attainment of ISO 17025-laboratory accreditation.

In 2014, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), through the Promoting the Quality of Medicine (PQM) program supported NAFDAC in receiving international accreditation, a major milestone in the fight against substandard and poor quality drugs. While this was a great achievement for NAFDAC and for Nigeria, the high volume of samples required to regulate medicines in the whole country was overwhelming for one laboratory. Therefore, in 2016, PMI supported two additional NAFDAC zonal laboratories — Kaduna laboratory in the north and Agulu laboratory in the east. PMI support included training, provision of basic equipment and consumables, and calibration of laboratory equipment.

PMI is currently helping to prepare Agulu zonal laboratory to receive a final accreditation audit from the American National Standards Institute ‒ American Society for Quality (ANSI‒ASQ) National Accreditation Board. If successful, the Agulu zonal laboratory will be one of few laboratories in the world to achieve accreditation in a record time of 6 months.

PMI’s investment in Agulu laboratory has had great impact on the operations of NAFDAC and other zonal laboratories. Furthermore, NAFDAC management is taking ownership of the accreditation process and funding a significant portion of it. Once accredited, the Agulu laboratory will play a critical role, not only in quality control of medicines in Nigeria and beyond, but also in developing the capacities of other NAFDAC zonal laboratories.

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