RITM launches COVID-19 Quality Assurance Program

MUNTINLUPA CITY—The Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) has formally launched the COVID-19 Quality Assurance Program (QAP) for the country’s COVID-19 Laboratory Network on 06 September. Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago of the DOH Public Health Services Team welcomed a total of 440 laboratory managers and representatives from licensed public and private testing labs during the virtual inauguration.

The QAP, led by the RITM Molecular Biology Laboratory, serves to ensure that all DOH-licensed COVID-19 PCR testing laboratories are providing accurate and reliable results, and that error-related risks are reduced. The program also facilitates generation of quality assurance data that will provide basis for continuous improvement of all labs.

Testing is one of the pillars of our country’s pandemic response. At the national level, test results inform the government on the effectiveness of its COVID-19 response measures, identifies where cases are found, and what strains exist or are emerging. The network’s accumulated data provide direction as to what interventions to take. With this considered, it is clear that we all have an obligation to ensure the reliability, accuracy, and timeliness of all reported results,” said RITM Director Celia Carlos.

Under the QAP, laboratories are set to accomplish a day-to-day recording of key testing events and laboratory quality indicators which will allow a network-wide detection of specific areas requiring action, troubleshooting, and technical assistance. This likewise allows the monitoring of timelines and efficiency of laboratories in generating output, as well as the analysis of laboratory concerns and their operational capacity parallel to the local case rates.

Overall, the QAP promotes the implementation of a standard and consistent quality management system that directly contributes to the improvement of pandemic response in the Philippines.

It is important that we not only do this to get licenses renewed. We must participate in this program to ensure that all labs are striving and aiming for the level of quality that our families, friends and colleagues, and our fellow Filipinos deserve,” said RITM Laboratory Chief Amado Tandoc, stressing the importance of the network’s cooperation in this initiative.

During the start of the pandemic, RITM was the sole facility with the capacity to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs. With 279 licensed laboratories at present, the diagnostic and testing capacity of the Philippines has significantly expanded since early last year.

All DOH-accredited COVID-19 testing labs are enjoined to update their laboratory details and confirm their participation in the COVID-19 Laboratory Network Quality Assurance Program (i.e., Proficiency Testing, Lab Assessment and KPI & LQI Monitoring) through this link: http://bit.ly/QAPRegForm