With its Water Quality Laboratory at the shelter belt now certified by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) for the first time, the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) is proposing to construct a number of mini laboratories around the country, Managing Director Dr. Richard Van West-Charles said yesterday.
The disclosure was made at a press conference yesterday where it was announced that the company’s main laboratory has now been certified by the GNBS to the National Laboratory Standard GYS 170 (General requirements for the operation of a laboratory).
Van West-Charles, who spearheaded the achievement, said that he was inspired by the company’s mission statement, which stresses the importance of producing safe water for consumers.
“When I came and joined GWI in 2015, one of the first things—when I looked at the mission [statement]—that hit me was the word safe and as a physician I said I cannot do anything but strive to ensure that the product is a safe produce,” he said, while explaining that when he took over the helm of the organisation, he looked at the organisational chart, which stated that the laboratory was under the “scientific services” department, which answered to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
He quickly revised the company’s structure and created the Water Quality Department, which the lab currently falls under.
“…And so the journey started because it had to be important that if we are producing a product and distributing a product we must be able to say whether that product is safe or not and that is the real purpose of trying to ensure that the lab, it’s processes, the competencies of the staff… are up to scratch so that when we say safe, it is safe,” he further explained.
As a result, the water company has started the process of creating a set of mini labs around the country and at an earlier meeting with the Ministry of Finance, Van West-Charles noted that they have made a proposal in their budget for the construction of more mini labs, which he said is critical, especially for the hinterland areas that rely on surface water for consumption and daily use.
Also speaking at the press conference was Rodlyn Semple, head of the Conformity Assessment Department of the GNBS, who noted that GWI’s lab is the third testing lab to be certified for the year in the country and the 14th overall.
Head of the Water Quality Department of GWI Deon Anderson also made brief remarks and explained that the certification is a valuation of the competence of the laboratory staff and a validation of its ability to deliver reliable, accurate and precise information to the customers about the quality of water they are consuming.
“Whatever data we have generated in the laboratory in regards to water quality is saying that the data is reliable and with the highest level of accuracy and precision,” he said.
Anderson explained that they were able to develop a “very rigorous” quality control regime and improve other methods and techniques which are all in line with the international World Health Organization (WHO) standards. “The certification is not just a moment, just an occasion, but an ongoing system where we will continue to strive to meet the requirements of both national and international standards. I know that the GNBS will be sending auditors from time to time to check and ensure that certification standards are maintained and complying with both national and international standards,” he added.
Laboratory Consultant Dr. Karamchand Ramoutar also made brief remarks. Ramoutar has been working with GWI since 2015 and is a medical and clinical microbiologist who lives and works in Canada, where he directs a microbiology lab that serves 16 hospitals.
He said that the next step is for GWI’s laboratory to be certified by an international body. He added that he is unsure of how long it would take but promised “it will be sooner than later.”