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The CMLF Team

 Valerie Wilson

Ms Valerie Wilson, Director

Ms. Valerie Wilson is the Director of the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation (CMLF). She is a trained Immunologist and holds Masters Degrees in Immunology and Business Administration and has had extensive training and experience as a public health professional. Ms. Wilson began her career as one of a group of pioneers in Immunology who established Immunology services at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago in 1981. She provided tissue typing support services for the first transplants done in Trinidad and Tobago in the mid-1980s, and established regional services in Transplantation Immunology at the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in the early 1990s.

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Ms. Wilson has provided leadership and technical advisory services to Ministries of Health, private and public sector laboratories and staff in 23 countries within the Caribbean region, for more than 20 years, through her work at the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre and subsequently, particularly in the areas of laboratory management, quality improvement, laboratory safety and strategic management. Following her initial role as Principal Technologist in 1990, she served as Laboratory Manager at CAREC from 1996 and then as Project Manager for the highly successful European Union (EU) funded laboratory strengthening project implemented by CAREC from 2002-2007. Through her efforts in this project, the Caribbean region agreed to the adoption of the ISO 15189 as the regional standard for medical laboratories and a regional mechanism for accreditation was initiated, based on the establishment of National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFPs) under the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

Ms. Wilson has served as a volunteer on the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) Global Committee and currently volunteers on their Quality Management Systems (QMS) Committee and as a Consultant for CLSI in QMS assessment and training for medical and public health laboratories in a number of African countries. Ms. Wilson is also involved with the International Federation of Biosafety Associations as a member of their Curriculum Committee for Certification of Biosafety professionals.

Ms. Wilson played a key role in the establishment the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation (CMLF), as a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation (NGO), established in 2008 to continue the co-ordination of laboratory strengthening within the Caribbean region which was begun under the CAREC EU-funded laboratory strengthening project. Under her Directorship, CMLF is in its third year of implementation of a laboratory network strengthening project, as a sub-recipient under the CARICOM Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) Global Fund Round 9 grant.

Ms. Wilson has provided consultancy services to CARICOM in the development of plans for the Caribbean Public Health Agency through a collaboration with TDV Global of Canada. She continues her involvement with the development of CARPHA as a member of the CARPHA Laboratory Advisory Committee.

 Wendy Kitson-Piggott

Ms Wendy Kitson-Piggott, Laboratory and Quality Systems Specialist

Ms. Wendy Kitson-Piggott is a microbiologist by profession, trained at McGill University and the University of Guelph in Canada. She is currently pursuing a Professional Doctorate in Health at the University of Bath in England. She is a co-founder of the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation.

Ms. Kitson-Piggott has practised as a public health professional for some 39 years, gaining local, regional and international experience, starting as a veterinary microbiologist with the Ministry of Agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago. From there she joined the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC/PAHO/WHO), providing technical advisory services as the HIV/AIDS/STI Laboratory Advisor and Training Manager for a European-funded  Project “Strengthening of Medical Laboratory Services in the Caribbean”.

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Ms. Kitson-Piggott has been in the vanguard of the quality improvement thrust for medical and public health laboratories in the Caribbean over the past 20 years, designing and facilitating strategic planning interventions for regional laboratories and engaging in national laboratory reform. She has also undertaken a number of international consultancies including participation in the CARICOM discussions on the conceptualization of a framework for the transitioning of regional health institutions to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)

She is an advocate of the ISO 15189 Standard for medical laboratories. She has spearheaded the harmonization and transformation of Medical Laboratory Technologists’ curricula used by regional training institutions, resulting in one curriculum agreed by all. Ms Kitson-Piggott has personally trained and sensitized over 1500 laboratory staff and stakeholders in the Caribbean on the importance of laboratory quality.

This key CMLF team member was also instrumental in designing and coordinating delivery of a management training programme for regional laboratory managers that continues to impact regional quality improvement efforts. Ms Kitson-Piggott continues her advocacy for laboratory quality improvement, through her work with the CMLF, and as a volunteer with the Clinical Laboratory and Standards Institute (CLSI) and other international organisations – a pursuit that she thoroughly enjoys. She is married with three children, two of whom have followed in her footsteps, currently practising as medical research doctors in the United States, while the third, is a commercial pilot.

 Dr. Wayne Labastide

Dr Wayne Labastide, Associate

Dr. Wayne Labastide is an Immunologist with a PhD from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, with local, regional and international experience. Through interest, experience and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Information Systems from the University of the West Indies, Institute of Business, he has evolved into an Information Systems professional, creating solutions for Public Health and Laboratory Medicine in the Caribbean.

Now a Lecturer in Immunology at the University of the West Indies School of Medicine at Mount Hope, Trinidad, he is focused on establishing much needed laboratory support for
specialised Clinical Immunological investigations. As an associate of the Caribbean Med Labs Foundation, he continues to be involved in the shaping of Caribbean Public Health and
Laboratory practice in the area of information management.

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In 2009, Creative Quality Associates (CQA) Caribbean Ltd./ TDV Global Inc. (http://www.tdvglobal.com) contracted Dr Labastide as a Health Information Systems resource for establishment of a conceptual framework and determination of the approximate cost of transition to, and operation of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on behalf of the Caribbean Community Secretariat.

This CMLF Associate was among the first formally trained Caribbean Immunologists, who collectively established Immunology services in the English-speaking Caribbean Region, starting around 1981.

Dr Labastide joined the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in 1991. There, he established a flow cytometry facility to facilitate determination of CD4 T-cell levels in HIV-infected patients, and for immunophenotyping of non-Hodgkins lymphomas and related leukaemias. He was an integral part of the design, development and implementation of CAREC’s laboratory information system, LABIS, first piloted in 1996, and which is still in use today.

LABIS has been recognized by several international public health agencies for its unique combination of user-friendly interface and powerful analytic capability with live data.

After sharing responsibility with another colleague for the management of the CAREC laboratory for one year, Dr Labastide took responsibility for the Information Management component of the CAREC project: “Strengthening of Medical Laboratory Services in the Caribbean”, now regarded as one of the most successful EU-funded projects delivered in the Caribbean.

Dr Labastide is a major advocate of an integrated approach to the management of health information across the Caribbean region that as far as possible, allows seamless integration with operational and strategic health information systems worldwide.

In 2002, The William Foster Group (USA)/ AFRICARE (by arrangement with CAREC) contracted Dr Labastide as a technical resource for the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation application for the Zambia Integrated Health Program (ZIHP). He was also a resource for the establishment of specific monitoring and evaluation applications for the AFRICARE HIV/AIDS Youth Programme in Zimbabwe.

Dr Labastide was Manager for the implementation of the Laboratory Information System at the Trinidad Public Health Laboratory, Port-of Spain, contracted by Terida Systems Ltd. (http://www.terida.com)on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC).

 Louise Mathura

Ms Louise Mathura, Administrative/Finance Assistant

Ms. Louise Mathura is an Administrative Professional with several years experience in various areas of the administrative arena both locally and regionally.  Her Administrative career has taken her from the construction sites of the Iron and Steel Company of Trinidad and Tobago (ISCOTT) to Environmental Studies at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). At UTT, she assisted in organizing, planning and implementing activities associated with a new Master’s programme in Environmental Science and Management and with Postgraduate Research degrees (M.Phil. and Ph.D.) in Socio-environmental areas and in Environmental Monitoring.  Ms Mathura played a crucial role in the intake of four cohorts of students, arranging semester and teaching schedules, preparing the Programme’s validation document for accreditation, and acting as a liaison between students and instructors. 

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Before her stint at UTT, she worked mainly in the private sector where her experience encompassed Purchasing and Inventory Management with responsibility for approximately US $10M worth of assets and inventory at any given point. She was responsible too for the efficient management and daily operations of the local office of an international Pharmaceutical Company, including management of the key accounts in other Caribbean territories. While there, she developed and maintained systems to operate a successful “Hot Line” and Patient Support Programme in Trinidad and regionally.

Ms. Mathura served for two and a half years at the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre’s European Union -funded Strengthening of Medical Laboratories Project (SMLS), assisting the Technical Officer responsible for Proficiency Testing, Procurement and Maintenance in duties which involved, inter alia, organizing, planning, and implementing 36 training events, workshops and/ or meetings in English, Dutch, Spanish and French-speaking Caribbean territories. A major part of her function was to monitor and ensure that budget allocations were efficiently utilized.

She joined the CMLF in mid-2011 where today she is the mainstay of the Foundation’s office, providing administrative support to both the technical and finance officers. Ms. Mathura maintains a network of key persons among the laboratory stakeholder community and is usually the welcoming voice that greets callers to the Foundation.

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CMLF News Issue #7
27th January 2016