Currently, clinical tests are interpreted based on standards from the developed part of the world without taking into account, local and context-based factors such as nutrition, genetics and other factors.
To address the situation, a global project was initiated in 2012 to determine the Reference Intervals (RIs) in Harmonization’ for clinical tests.
It brought together 20 countries to develop standard methodologies for producing accurate and consistent reference ranges for common clinical tests.
This is expected to lead directly to more accurate diagnosis and optimal treatment regimens for patients across the world.
Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt were selected for the African component of the research which has been successfully carried out.
Professor Kiyoshi Ichihara of Yamaguchi University, Japan, is leading the global research with the International Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC).
In Ghana, Medlab Ghana Ltd, a member of Synlab, and the University of Ghana, with support from Sysmex, among others, played lead roles.
At a Research Presentation ceremony in Accra, Prof. Ichihara explained that nearly all decisions regarding the clinical management of patients were made with reference to the results of laboratory tests.
However, this aspect of patient care and diagnosis was often taken for granted on the assumption that laboratory test results were standardized and robust.
The project was, therefore, launched, following two years of discussions with the IFCC on harmonised protocol, followed by a further four years of recruitment, testing and reporting, culminating in papers published in 2017, which recommend standards to be adopted globally for setting RIs.
Dr.Rosemary Keatley of Medlab Ghana Ltd, expressed optimism that the results of the research would be adopted by the health authorities as a standard for RIs in Ghana.
She pointed out: “Preliminary results have shown a clear difference between the current RIs determined from a Caucasian population and the new ones derived from a country-based research.
“The new RIs make the interpretation of laboratory results more accurate and it will lead to better diagnosis for Ghanaians.
“Medlab rebranding as Synlab, is committed to using the result of the research and she believes others will join in, to promote a more decisive and accurate diagnosis.”
Prof. Julius Fobil of the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, thanked all global partners and said the research had broadened the scope of knowledge on Reference Intervals in Clinical Laboratory Science.
He applauded Prof. Ichihara for his global efforts and the knowledge impacted on some doctoral students from the School of Public Health.
Prof. Kiyoshi Ichihara, MD & PhD has been an Emeritus Professor of Yamaguchi University, Japan, since 2016. He is currently a research professor for the university.
He has been in the field of Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Chemistry since graduation from Yamaguchi University School of Medicine in 1975.
He has published 130 original papers in international journals, particularly on theories and methodologies for derivation of RIs and laboratory quality controls.
He has been an author of popular statistical textbooks and software in Japan since 1990, with unique expertise in bio-statistics and computer programming as a MD. He has chaired many global committees on RI-related projects.