The Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory has received ISO certification that confers international recognition for the standards of its quality services offered to people with HIV.
The certificate of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was presented by Kenya Accreditation Service officials during an event held at Nyumbani on 22 January. The guest of honour was the Principal Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Dr Wilson Songa.
“Achieving ISO accreditation brings Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory to an international level,” said Sr Mary Owens, executive director of Nyumbani.
“Quality in service has always marked Nyumbani right from the beginning. Fr D’Agostino’s vision was to provide the best care and treatment for our children. Laboratory services are essential for the treatment of people living with HIV. Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory was a state-of-the art facility when it was established in 1998, even though it was simply an extension of Nyumbani Home. We maintained this standard but it was only when we managed to build a new facility in 2011 that the goal of ISO accreditation became possible.”
Nyumbani was set up in the early nineties by Fr Angelo D’Agostino SJ (1925-2006) as Kenya’s first hospice for orphans with AIDS. The hospice eventually became a home thanks to access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and proper nutrition. The venture swiftly expanded to include a community program called Lea Toto for HIV-positive orphans in slums around Nairobi, and later Nyumbani Village in eastern Kenya.
For AJAN director Paterne Mombé SJ, Jesuit AIDS ministry has a model to emulate in the standards promoted by Nyumbani. He said: “Fr Dag’s dream, Nyumbani, set before us a sterling example to follow: to offer the best possible quality service, in line with the Ignatian principle of the Magis, which is to strive for excellence in all we do.”
What makes the ISO certification so valuable is that it places Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory “among the top laboratories not only in Kenya but in the world”. Sr Mary said the certification would attract more people from the outside community to seek its services – which is part of the vision of Nyumbani: “We seek to serve as many persons living with HIV as possible offering quality services at affordable costs with quick turn-around time in a friendly, relational context.”
Sr Mary said Nyumbani planned to draw clients from beyond Kenya too. “Ours is the first diagnostic laboratory to offer genotyping – resistance testing. This is fast becoming a necessity in ART,” she said. “We are planning to offer DNA testing, a service that is becoming more and more needed in serious accidents/crime mortality and identification of paternity/maternity. We expect that, when we market these tests beyond our borders, people in neighbouring countries will be attracted to use our services.”