Solomon Islands to strengthen microbiological food testing capacity

Solomon Islands is developing its microbiological testing capacity of the National Public Health Laboratory for fish exports. (Image source: Francesca/Flickr)

Solomon Islands is developing its microbiological testing capacity of the National Public Health Laboratory for fish exports and local food and water through a three-year capacity building project

The project is funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) of the World Trade Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) in Honiara, Solomon Islands is implementing the project with in-kind contributions from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and local support from the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA).

The STDF project is titled – Strengthening the capacity of the National Public Health Laboratory to provide services in support of market access for Solomon Island fish exporters. The FAO project is called – Strengthening the sustainability of Solomon Islands National Public Health Laboratory to obtain and maintain international accreditation. FAO will lead the projects, which runs from June 2017 to May 2020.

Upon completion, the projects will enable the NPHL to comply with international microbiological food testing standards. Laboratory staff will be trained and essential quality systems put in place to comply with international standards and good practice techniques. By the end of the project in 2020, it is anticipated that the laboratory will be assessed as ready for ISO 17025 certification for microbiological testing by a relevant international accreditation body for example, International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ).

Cawthron Institute of New Zealand is the service provider contracted by FAO to provide the technical expertise on microbiological laboratory capacity development to achieve ISO 17025.

Since the projects inception meeting in September 2017, two Cawthron technical experts travelled to Honiara and assisted with developing testing capacity at the NPHL. They also established testing protocols, developed quality systems and updated major government officials and industry stakeholders on the project progress. NPHL staffs are being trained in Honiara and will have further training at the Cawthron laboratory in Nelson, New Zealand.