The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) is on a thrust to make quality a way of life in the region.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar made this clear as he addressed media yesterday during a break at a forum of directors of standards bureaux in CARICOM. Remarking on the challenges identified by some directors in the development of standards, the CEO remarked that this was one of the reasons behind the current drafting of a Regional Quality Policy for CARICOM.
“At the regional level the 15 CEOs of the Bureaux of Standards have gotten together and we are basically writing a regional constitutional document on what quality consciousness is all about and how to foster and promote a quality culture in the Caribbean region. We have that document in draft form and we are currently developing that and once we get that approved we would want to distribute that widely through the region, and that will be a Regional Quality Policy approved by policymakers as to what we believe quality is,” he said at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) CEO Forum being held at Courtyard by Marriott in Barbados from July 4 to 6, 2016.
He noted this was one of the ways to address the challenges bureaux experienced with engaging stakeholders. In relation to engagement with industry to increase the uptake and use of standards, the CEO explained that CROSQ was supporting each of the 15 bureaux within CARICOM to develop and improve their awareness, marketing and communications with stakeholders.
“Being scientists we love standards development, we love testing, measurement infrastructure, but when it comes to engaging with people and society and those softer issues, that is a new talent we are helping the bureaux to bring into their core as to how to develop marketing and communication plans, how to reach out to [the media] the help us spread the message of standards and the use of it,” he added.
Finally, he stated that the attraction and retention of staff, as well as financing were issues bureaux indicated challenges with and which CROSQ as a network of bureaux of standards was trying to assist. “At the regional level we look for a lot of donor funded projects that can support Member States to invest in resources, be they people, be they tools, be they equipment or even work methods and then what we do is develop frameworks that helps these bureaux to share these resources across the region.”
The ISO-sponsored forum is being facilitated by ISO Acting Secretary General, Mr. Kevin McKinley, who said the intent was to maximise the shared knowledge and connect the Caribbean more fully with the world and influence the standards process.
“There is a huge gap, a huge opportunity, that exists right now. We cannot run a region, a country, only by mandatory rules, only by laws. You need organised market forces that compliment public policy objectives. International standards are set up in a way that involves the key countries and the key countries include the Caribbean in a lot of areas that are of priority to this region.
“So how do you get to the table on subjects that make most sense and influence the standards that are going to have the most impact on how global new public policy related to climate change, related to the environment, energy efficiency . . . These policies are coming out at a global level and you need tools to implement them at a national level and a company level.”
Mr. McKinley acknowledged that not all members were equal in their level of development, but noted this forum was intended to take the best practices from each and help each other implement.
The forum, sponsored by ISO, is hosted by the Barbados National Standards Institution, and facilitated as well by CROSQ.
Next week all eyes will be on Barbados as it hosts the ISO Forum for Chief Executive Officers of National Standards Bodies in the Caribbean, which will be facilitated by the ISO Acting Secretary-General, Mr. Kevin McKinley.
The CEO Forum, which will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott, Hastings, Christ Church, opens on Monday, July 4 at 9 a.m. and concludes Wednesday, July 6, 2016. It is being sponsored by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and is intended to be a platform for heads of national standards bodies, members of ISO, "to get together to discuss issues related to the day-to-day management of their organisations".
ISO describes the forum, which is expected to attract the Directors of National Standards Bodies (NSBs) from across the region, especially from within CARICOM, as an “ideal setting for fellow executives of NSBs to exchange views on matters of mutual interest, to consider possible solutions to the challenges they face, and to identify concrete actions for implementation in their organisations”.
Barbados and the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), will serve as hosts to the forum entitled "What Keeps a CEO Awake at Night and What Are His/Her Top Priorities to be Successful".
Among areas to be discussed are relations with policymakers; national standardization strategies, funding mechanisms and business models; as well as standards development and publishing; stakeholder engagement – success and failures; marketing and sales of standards, NSB services and operational efficiency.
Director of the BNSI, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael noted that, as a member of ISO, it was a pleasure to host such a major regional event here in Barbados.
"Just like our partners across the CARICOM Region, the BNSI is committed to the development of the quality infrastructure and we recognize the importance of collaborating and working together on areas of mutual interest and also sharing ideas and best practices.
"We are looking forward to very interactive and fruitful discussions next week and to outcomes that would provide the bureaux of standards within CARICOM with an even stronger platform to strengthen the quality infrastructure, thereby making our respective organisations, and by extension our region, more competitive," said Ishmael.
For queries, please contact:
Ms. Latoya Burnham,
Technical Officer, Communication - CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ)
Tele: (246) 622-7670 ext 671
If the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) is to press ahead to aid the development of quality goods and services across the region that trade and compete internationally, regional governments and businesses need to play their part.
That was the view of accreditation expert, Mr. Pat Paladino, as he addressed a symposium to mark World Accreditation Day in Guyana this week.
Mr. Paladino, addressing an audience that included Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, regional leaders in quality infrastructure development, as well as regulators and private sector business leaders, acknowledged the role that the two major accreditations in Guyana; one in Jamaica and one in Grenada utilising CROSQ’s Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, had played in pushing quality to the forefront of discussion.
He also highlighted the Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) another programme created by CROSQ to assist the development of the region’s conformity assessment bodies, namely the inspection, testing and certification entities within both the private and public sector.
Additionally, said the international accreditation expert, the National Standards Bodies of Belize, Suriname and Jamaica, had all been certified to the ISO 9001 quality management system, with the assistance of CROSQ, but all this work was only the start of what was needed in the region.
“The CARICOM and CARIFORUM Regions have much more to do to be able to ensure that all quality and quality-related services are available within the regions. There are many more standards to adopt or adapt and many more conformity assessment bodies to accredit. There is a need for the development of capabilities within the NABs for product, services and personnel certification bodies and inspection bodies.
“It is also necessary to obtain international recognition of the National Accreditation Bodies for certification and inspection bodies. Each one is a formidable task, but I have confidence that the organizations are up for the task,” said the accreditation consultant.
“All this work and the achievements will go to waste if there is no uptake by government or business. That is the policies and programmes developed must be embraced and put to use. Regional standards that are harmonized internationally must be adopted at the national level. National regulations must start to reference the use of these standards and address qualification of organizations to the international standards.
“The time is now to show such commitments. Without your commitment it will become extremely difficult for Caribbean organizations to be competitive in international and regional markets,” he added, congratulating the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) on the tremendous work it had done in the country thus far.
Head of Conformity Assessment at the Bureau, Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick noted the high demand in the country for quality management services and accreditation services, since the recent accreditations of the Guyana Rice Development Board’s Central Laboratory and the Eureka Medical Laboratories Inc. in Georgetown, with the assistance of the bureau, CROSQ and funding partners.
Likewise, Technical Officer for Accreditation with CROSQ, Mr. Stephen Farquharson, made a call for labs wanting to move to accreditation status to contact the local focal point at the GNBS to access the services CROSQ could provide to begin the process.
He noted that CCA Scheme and the CANCAB mechanism were both created under the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, and additional funding partners like the Caribbean Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, as well as the Centres for Disease Control under various programmes, had enabled the assistance to be provided to the labs and bureaux that had received certification or accreditation. This assistance, he noted, was available to others seeking it.
Furthermore, like Mr. Paladino, he underscored the importance of the focus on quality to breaking barriers and opening new markets for products and services for the countries of CARICOM and CARIFORUM, and protecting the general welfare, health and safety of consumers and the environment.
The CROSQ officer noted that the organisation was in the process of cooperating and collaborating on a common regional quality policy and strategy of development that was needed in the region and for which close public and private sector linkages with the bureaux of standards would be needed.
The Yes We Care Programme of the Baobab Towers was in a giving mood in May, when it made a monetary donation to the Barbados Alzheimer’s Association.
President of the Association, Mrs. Pamelia Brereton, who accepted the cheque on behalf of the cause from the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), a regional organisation on the Second Floor of the Towers, noted she was particularly grateful for the gift.
She said times were hard and especially so for charitable organisations which were struggling to find sources of funds for various projects.
“We greatly appreciate it because things are not as easy as it seems out there and we appreciate anyone and everyone that comes forward to assist the association. We have big dreams but little money, but the organisation will continue because it means so much to me personally. When you have had or seen the situations, that is the only time you understand why people push so hard,” she said.
While noting that this particular donation had not been directed at any particular project, she reminded that there were two ongoing ones of key importance to the association. “We are still struggling to make money for the day care, even the one cent drive was not enough to do what we were hoping for. Some people think we are millionaires from that, but they seem to forget it’s just one cent.”
Yes We Care volunteer with CROSQ, Office Assistant Mrs. Maureen Carrington, who presented the cheque along with CROSQ’s Accounts Manager, Mr. Mohan Nandwani, said it was a pleasure for the organisation to have selected this month’s recipient for the donation.
Each month participants in the building’s Yes We Care programme select a charity to present funds collected from the programme’s participating agencies and organisations within Baobab Towers. This month it was the Alzheimer’s Association, and CROSQ’s turn to choose the recipient.
A major consultation on the quality of goods and services in Antigua and Barbuda on April 12, 2016, is expected to be the first step toward the establishment of a National Quality Awards for the country.
In a process being led by the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), and facilitated by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), stakeholders from across sectors including tourism, health, agriculture, business, as well as quality infrastructure development, will gather at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute for a day-long consultation on quality-related matters.
The objective of the consultation is to examine the feasibility of introducing a National Quality Awards to the country that will recognise companies and organisations for their dedication to running quality focussed operations and services, and their commitment to producing high quality products for the country and global markets. It will be addressed and opened by Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Honourable, Mr. E. P. Chet Greene at 9 a.m. The consultation runs until 4 p.m.
It is funded through the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme, being implemented in the Caribbean by CROSQ, alongside INDOCAL in the Dominican Republic, and managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB).
Mrs. Dianne Rodrigues, Director of the ABBS, which is serving as host for this meeting, noted that "the thrust of the Bureau is to offer services that can help promote a culture of quality in the country, and as such this dialogue was a step in that direction".
“We are very interested in what the various sectors have to say about this programme on which we are embarking, and we are hoping that stakeholders can see the value in what we are trying to create and actively get on board and support the process. This initiative will be very beneficial for us all,” said the Director.
"A National Quality Award could help improve the standard and quality of products and services being offered in Antigua and Barbuda, and that is for both the local and foreign markets. It has the potential as well, to be a major branding initiative for the country which is focussing its attention on improving industries and sectors like tourism, agriculture, and health services. One way of getting the kind of growth a country would want is to look at the quality of what is on offer," said Ms. Latoya Burnham, Technical Officer, Communication and Information with CROSQ.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) was on hand recently to celebrate with Eureka Medical Laboratories (EML), as the laboratory rang in its 21st year of operation by becoming the first such medical company to receive the ISO 15189 Accredited status, in Guyana.
In the ceremony held just a week ago in the South American country, CEO of EML, Mr. Andrew Boyle told the gathering of dignitaries that included Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, and staff, that it had been a long but worthwhile journey.
“The accreditation road was costly, rough and long but today we have reaped the benefits of our hard work. What a lovely and profound feeling of satisfaction that was! It is now that the work has commenced,” said the EML head.
Technical assistance was provided by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the technical implementation by the German National Metrology Institute’s (PTB) Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) 4 Project.
CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, whose regional organisation lent technical assistance to the lab to reach the accreditation, told the audience: “Tonight’s launch and celebration of the Eureka Medical Laboratories’ accreditation to the ISO 15189 standard for quality and competence in medical laboratories, bears testament to the development assistance and cooperative mechanisms of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme as we are recognising the accreditation of a second laboratory in Guyana within a mere nine months; the other laboratory being a testing laboratory – the Guyana Rice Development Board Central Laboratory.”
The CCA Scheme brings professional expertise to labs looking to get accredited, utilising personnel from the region’s quality infrastructure institutions. In the case of EML, the guidance was provided by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, whose laboratory certification programme to the GYS 170 standard, provided a stepping stone to accreditation.
Additional technical assistance to EML through CROSQ came from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme.
Congratulating EML on the achievement, Mr. Omar further remarked: “CROSQ is delighted to extend sincere congratulations to the Eureka Medical Laboratories for this remarkable achievement of being the very first medical laboratory in Guyana to be accredited to the ISO 15189 standard. This accreditation also represents the first medical laboratory to be accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) outside of Jamaica and the first medical laboratory to achieve accreditation through the CCA Scheme.”
CEO of JANAAC, Mrs. Sharonmae Shirley underscored the importance of this step to Guyana, as well as the Caribbean.
“This is important not only for trade but it is also important for tourism. It is important for health. The medical tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. The EML has now enhanced Guyana’s reach into this lucrative market.”
Minister Norton commenting on the company’s successful five-year journey to accreditation, noted that this was evidence of the quality medical service available in the country.
“For too often we take it for granted that all we need to supply is service and we forget about the quality. Eureka has proven it wrong. ... While I applaud you for the achievement that you have made, I urge you not to become complacent, but to continually improve on and expand your laboratory service,” the minister urged.
Representative of PTB, Mrs. Anett Matbadal congratulated the lab on the success, as well as the GNBS in the role it played in assisting the process.
"I am glad Eureka Medical Laboratories has achieved this and I want to acknowledge the great help that GNBS was providing, because I still remember when CROSQ together with PTB was starting to develop the CCA Scheme in the region with two national bodies in Jamaica and Trinidad, and 15 National Accreditation Focal Points in the region ... We hope this accreditation will serve you well and open markets for you and in the name of PTB I wish you all the best for the future," said Matbadal.