Kazakhstan: Improving Laboratories One Step at a Time
As part of a large-scale project to modernize Kazakhstan’s outdated laboratories, the “stepwise” laboratory improvement process is producing immediate and measurable results.
In Semey, a town on the steppe in Eastern Kazakhstan, near the Russian-Siberian border, sits one of Kazakhstan’s many laboratories. Like others in the country, the Semey laboratory was in need of crucial updating. Doors didn’t have locks or biohazard signs to keep patients out. A red line across the floor designated the clean area from the working area, which was confusing, especially to new staff. There was no eyewash station, and most technicians were unaware of the requirement to have one.
Things needed to change
In 2014, the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development began working on a large-scale project to modernize Kazakhstan’s laboratories. The goal was to introduce the stepwise laboratory improvement process, which is a training and mentoring program developed by world experts to create immediate, measurable improvement in laboratories.
The Semey laboratory was one of five chosen for the first phase of the project. Over the 15 months of stepwise training, the five laboratories were transformed. Each now has a designated quality manager and biosafety officer who teach staff how to meet requirements and do their jobs better. Participating laboratories offer targeted training to other facilities within their region, spreading improvement grassroots-style, one facility at a time.
Among other improvements, Semey now has an actual wall separating the clean area from the working area. Locks and signage were added to doors, and every laboratory now has at least one eyewash station.
Kazakhstan has a complete strategy to improve its laboratories. Policy documents issued by the Kazakh Government were revised to define the roles and responsibilities of reference, clinical, and public health laboratories. Strategic plans were drafted defining step-by-step expectations for laboratory achievements in future years. Together with partners, they will implement activities in the strategic plan, improve more laboratories, draft additional guidance, train the workforce, and realize new goals.
About This Story
This story illustrates Kazakhstan’s commitment to meeting the Global Health Security Agendaexternal icon (GHSA) target for laboratories, which states that countries will create a nationwide laboratory system capable of safely and accurately detecting and characterizing pathogens causing epidemic disease.
Kazakhstan is one of 31 countries the U.S. is partnering with to improve public health systems in line with GHSA targets. Progress in modernizing laboratories in Kazakhstan is thanks to support from the CDC Global Disease Detection Regional Center for Kazakhstan and Central Asia, the CDC Foundation, and the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development of Kazakhstan.