Tenth African Accreditation Cooperation General Assembly Meetings Held in Cote d’Ivoire
The African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC) held its 10th General Assembly and Meetings from 19-27 September 2019 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The General Assembly was hosted by the
West African Accreditation System, or SOAC (Système Ouest Africain d’Accréditation). AFRAC is a cooperation of accreditation bodies, sub-regional accreditation cooperations, and stakeholders whose objective is to facilitate trade and contribute to the protection of health, safety and the environment in Africa to increase Africa’s competitiveness. The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), as a stakeholder of AFRAC, actively participates in the General Assembly and Meetings.
The General Assembly was officially opened by Mr Souleymane Diarrassouba, the Honorable Minister of Trade and Industry of Cote d’Ivoire; Mr Ron Josias, Chairman of the African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC); Mr Aboubacry Baro, President of SOAC; representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA); the ECOWAS Quality Agency and the ECOWAS Regional Accreditation System. The Honorable Minister thanked AFRAC for conducting the General Assembly in Abidjan and congratulated the three accreditation bodies of West Africa, GhaNAS of Ghana, NINAS of Nigeria, and SOAC for the eight UEMOA member states, for their remarkable achievements over the past two years.
During the nine-day conference, a series of meetings of the Executive Committee, Mutual Recognition Arrangements Council, Technical Committee, Marketing and Communication Committee were held. During one of these, on 26 September 2019, AFRAC conducted a workshop on the International Accreditation Federation (IAF) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) A3 Joint IAF/ILAC-A3 documents. The IAF/ILAC – A3:01/2018 (current version) details the requirements and procedures for the peer evaluation of an Accreditation Body based on the ISO/IEC 17011:2017 standard. The workshop, facilitated by Eng. Mahmoud Eltayeb, Vice Chair of the AFRAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement Committee, aimed to provide tools for representatives of accreditation bodies to conduct peer evaluations that will aid in the report preparation process and assist them with future peer evaluations of other Accrediting Bodies.
The main resolutions approved by the General Assembly on 27 September 2019 were:
- The AFRCA strategic plan and 2020 work plan
- Identification of the next peer evaluations
- Accreditation of certification bodies for people, products or proficiency testing providers
- The AFRAC Technical Committee Medical Sub-committee should be established and AFRAC members should nominate representatives
- All AFRAC Member Accreditation Bodies will operate at three different levels:
- The following accrediting bodies were approved to continue operating as AFRAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) members:
- The following three Accrediting Bodies will operate as AFRAC Full Members:
- AFRAC Associate Members will be:
During the meeting, ASLM volunteered to serve as the Chair for the newly established AFRAC Technical Committee Medical Sub-committee. If selected, ASLM will chair all Technical Committee Medical Sub-committee meetings and sessions and communicate with all representatives in the Technical Committee Medical Sub-committee.
The 10Th General Assembly and Meeting was closed by Mrs Berthe Deli Azoda, Director of Promotion of Quality and Standardization, Côte d’Ivoire, who expressed the appreciation of their Minister of Trade and Industry for the resolutions made at the 10th General Assembly and committed to carrying out the actions to make the regional accreditation system more efficient for better access to products and services. She closed by stating that NINAS and SOAC are preparing for the peer evaluation, and requested support from AFRAC for these two regional (ECOWAS) accreditation bodies until mutual recognition agreements were signed.
Author: Teferi Mekonen
Editor: Mrs Bethanie Rammer
Established in 2011, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) is a pan-African professional body focused on improving healthcare by strengthening all aspects of laboratories including workforce strengthening, quality improvement and accreditation, harmonization of regulations, strengthening of networks, and strengthening advocacy and communications. Laboratory testing is pivotal for disease diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance, outbreak investigation, and initiation and monitoring of treatment, as well as research and development. ASLM addresses these challenges by working collaboratively with governments; national, regional and international organizations; implementing partners, the private sector and other agencies to achieve its Strategic Vision goals. ASLM is endorsed by the African Union with support from the World Health Organization, Africa CDC, the US CDC, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the World Bank, the Clinton Foundation, UNAIDS, and others.