SUMMARY REPORT ON UNIDO-NQIP INTERVENTION IN INTER-LABORATORY COMPARISON IN NIGERIA
Summary report on UNIDO-NQIP intervention in Inter-Laboratory Comparison in Nigeria
In simple terms, an inter-laboratory comparison is an independent test carried out several times. It could be a measurement, an analysis, or an experiment. Inter-laboratory Comparisons, or ILC, are performed for different reasons:
- To determine the reproducibility of a test method or process
- To verify a new method of analysis
- To establish the basis for standard reference material
- To fulfil requirement of ISO/IEC 17025 for accreditation.
UNIDO-NQIP has supported IPAN’s first inter-laboratory comparison scheme. In April 2018, trainings took place to build the capacity of relevant personnel. The trainings were on procedures for the conduct of ILC (that is one of the alternate options for Proficiency Testing) in line with ISO/IEC standards, and international best practice.
The UNIDO-NQIP intervention is timely. Proficiency Testing and Inter-Laboratory testing, or PT/ILC, as it is often known, is mandatory under AFRAC and ILAC requirements. Prior to the establishment of ILC, laboratories had to participate in Proficiency Testing, PTs, organised by foreign scheme providers at a high cost, which few labs can afford. As a result, laboratories faced lesser capacity and capability to test scoped parameters. Many laboratories could not meet one of the requirements for accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard. On the other hand, customer patronage was low in these laboratories as quality in the results could not be assured."
Local ILC/PT providers translate to ease of reach, locality and low cost of participation. Although the participating ILC labs in Nigeria have participated in international proficiency testing, there has been an almost 98% diversion from international PTs to the UNIDO-NQIP supported local ILC scheme. In April 2018, 15 laboratories tested powdered milk and water; and in August 2018, 21 laboratories participated, testing water, ground rice, table salt and refined vegetable oil. A third ILC will focus on analyses of vitamins in oil and sugar vitamins and has been scheduled to take place between November/December 2018. This ILC may feature private industry laboratories as participants.
IPAN coordinates the ILC and stabilizes the samples to be tested. Participants fund the PT at a fixed fee. Three laboratories have been accredited - two private and one public – with a 75% pass rate for the first ILC. Reports are sent to participating laboratories under a unique coding system. A laboratory code is issued for privacy and confidentiality of participants.
An ILC can be conducted in all labs including calibration, mechanical, and cement, provided assured samples can be either procured or provided. Direct benefits of the establishment of a local ILC include greater awareness of what quality means and how laboratories can build quality into their respective business processes, as well as implementation of ISO/IEC 17025:2005. On a wider scale, suppliers of chemicals and equipment are now required to show and submit Certificates of Analysis to identify the use of counterfeit and sub-standard chemicals and reagents.
ILC helps to prove competency and a good ILC result increases the confidence of laboratory analysts, on the other hand, it increases customer confidence in a laboratory system.