NPHIL, National Reference Laboratory Downgraded by International Standard

MONROVIA: Liberia’s National Reference Laboratory of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has been drastically downgraded to 1-Star by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and could be further demoted to Zero.

The “ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO 9001 enable laboratories to demonstrate that they operate competently and generate valid results, thereby promoting confidence in their work both nationally and around the world.”

Laboratories around the world are graded by ISO from 1 to 5 Stars, and 1-Star being the lowest with Liberia’s NPHIL laboratory now approaching Zero. Testing results from Liberia cannot be trusted by other countries with this low classification by ISO.

Over the past three years, Liberia’s National Reference Laboratory at the NPHIL has not been able to perform according to a number of international standards set by ISO. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, Liberia’s testing procedures and results were considered to be inaccurate.

For the most part, the NPHIL laboratory has been unable to produce valid and reliable testing results, thereby losing confidence with the WHO and other entities to be used as a regional lab to validate international specimens.

According to recent assessments done in December 2023 through January 2024, the NPHIL has less than 7 trained laboratory personnel at the National Reference Laboratory and have only basic level of competence in carrying out laboratory procedures. Up till present, there has since been no improvement at the NPHIL.

The NRL has not updated personnels’ laboratory safety training requirement for about 3 to 4 years now, one of the major criteria stipulated by ISO for grading and certifying laboratories around the world.

Some foreign scientists working in Liberia have had to send specimen outside of Liberia to other regional laboratories like Louis Pasture in Senegal for reliable testing.

The NRL at NPHIL was at ISO-graded 3 Stars during the administration of Dr. Mosoka Fallah as Director General of the NPHIL, while the late Dr. Fatorma Bolay oversaw the NRL.

Both Fallah and the late Bolay sought the technical expertise of a prominent Liberian scientist, Dr. Chris Dougbeh Nyan, who performed several research seminars and laboratory training workshops at the NPHIL, thereby increasing the ISO rating of the institute.

But, the NPHIL has since declined very rapidly to 1 Star under the new and current administrators that took over the institute after Dr. Fallah was abruptly terminated by former President George Weah during the COVID-19 pandemic and followed by the loss of Dr. Bolay.

Public Health systems in every country depend on good laboratories and competent personnel to be able to address health risks and threats. Currently compared to other countries in the region, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) may not be able to mount an effective response if there was a major outbreak due to its NPHIL’s lack of administrative and technical competence.

Contributed by Augustine Kruah, Freelancer (akruah1@gmaiI.com)

1 Comment
  1. Philip Cocu says

    Please let Dougbeh Chris Nyan know that this is not the most effective approach to finding a job. Additionally, advise him to avoid mixing politics with Public Health issues.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.