Name: Ismael Barreto
Institution: RMIT University
Course of study: Master of Laboratory Medicine
Years completed: 2014
Ismael Barreto has a clear vision for Timor-Leste’s National Health Laboratory services, and he’s got the chops to see it through.
The Executive Director of his country’s National Health Laboratory, Ismael is committed using the knowledge he gained as an Australia Awards Masters scholar to raising service quality across the board. Ismael’s recently acquired knowledge of the Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation (LQSI) tool is central to his plan to improve the efficiency of the National Health Laboratory.
He is also responsible for the strategic direction and overall operation of all public diagnostic services for Timor-Leste, as well as diagnostics for disease surveillance, procurement for those services, and laboratory staff training.
Ismael’s significant experience with the National Health Laboratory meant that he was able to witness first-hand both the challenges and the opportunities to make improvements to its processes. However, completing his Australian Government sponsored Master of Laboratory Medicine at Melbourne’s RMIT University in 2014, and his LQSI training in Amsterdam, were what gave him the confidence and skills to bring his vision to life.
Ismael attended the LQSI training module as part of his Australian Awards Alumni Small Grant, which he was awarded in January this year. The training course was developed by the Netherlands-based KIT Royal Tropical Institute, a biomedical research organisation which is the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for the training of specialist healthcare workers worldwide, including medical laboratory professionals.
“My skills and experience from the course have served as a foundation to build this new direction for the National Health Laboratory,” Ismael said. “I feel more confident with daily management, and making decisions about changes.”
Ismael has been able to combine the technical expertise he gained in Australia with the practical skills from his LQSI training to lead the laboratory in a new direction.
“Our government and partner donors have a very clear vision of how to improve laboratory services in Timor-Leste, however, most of them don’t know where to start, how to begin,” explained Ismael. He believes the answer lies in the correct implementation of the Laboratory Quality Management System using the LQSI tool, and an interdependent and high-performing team.
“Quality management systems are the responsibility of each and every one of us at the National Health Laboratory. This means that everyone at the laboratory has an important role to play in the implementation of policies and standards,” he said. “For example, if a cleaner does not perform their job properly, then it will contaminate a test performed at the laboratory, hence the results will be inaccurate, leading to misdiagnosis and wrong treatment.”
His role involves supervising each directorate of Timor-Leste’s National Health Laboratory to ensure it is correctly implementing its quality management system daily across every facet of the operation. “This requires good analytical skills in areas such as human resources, funding, hospital demands, human resources mapping, future projections, and research on best practice for laboratories to provide services that are reliable, dependable and sustainable,” he said.
Under Ismael’s leadership, Timor-Leste is already seeing an improvement in health services delivery across regional public laboratories, and his unique management style has helped to reduce operational costs without compromising the quality of services.
Ismael is currently working towards a laboratory accreditation system using the LQSI tool, with the final external assessment due later this month (August 2016). For Ismael, “the most important thing is providing a highly reliable and dependable laboratory result to the clinician, in order to make the right treatment decision.”
He plans to make quality laboratory management ‘best practice’ for the National Health Laboratory. This will include establishing clear standards and processes that can be implemented at regional, district and community health centre laboratories across Timor-Leste.
For more info, please go to: https://globalalumni.gov.au/AustraliaAwards/AlumniStories.aspx