Thu | May 13, 2021

Gov't strengthening capacity of labs to undertake COVID-19 tests

Published:Friday | January 22, 2021 | 12:10 PM
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce - Audley Shaw (file photo)

The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce says it is working with the Ministry of Health & Wellness to improve the capacity of local laboratories to undertake coronavirus (COVID-19) tests and clamp down on unauthorised facilities.

Portfolio Minister Audley Shaw said that as part of the process, private laboratories will be assisted to secure accreditation through the proper channels, in order to ensure that testing standards are equivalent to those of government facilities.

He was addressing a virtual press briefing on Thursday on the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation’s (JANAAC) Pre-Approval Accreditation Programme.

The programme aims to fast-track the accreditation of private entities desirous of providing COVID-19 tests. Targeted are private laboratories and point-of-care testing facilities such as doctors’ offices, health centres and pharmacies.

JANAAC will be subsidising some of the costs associated with the accreditation process.

“We have noted the recent reports of the burgeoning COVID-19 testing market and have also heard the calls of the Minister of Health & Wellness for greater support and collaboration towards improving the Government’s response to the pandemic,” Shaw said.

“Through JANAAC, the Ministry is today outlining its support to our local laboratories and other facilities to ensure Jamaica can ramp up its systems and support capabilities in support of the clarion call to boost the nation’s ability to keep pace with developments in the global community,” he added.

Shaw said that accrediting these testing facilities plays a critical role in safeguarding the local tourism industry, in light of requirements by the major tourism partners for travellers to their jurisdictions, including citizens returning from vacation overseas, to provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The requirement has led to increased demand for testing for the virus locally.

“My Ministry stands ready to offer its support, recognising that any lapse in our support systems cannot be good for our tourism product, the economy or the public, which seeks to obtain these services.”

JANAAC, an agency under the Ministry, provides International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15189 accreditation to medical laboratories and ISO/International Electro technical (IEC) 17025 accreditation to laboratories offering testing and calibration services.

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