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National Proficiency Testing Scheme

The Division of Pathology currently organises two National Proficiency Testing Schemes for government and restructured hospital laboratories and private laboratories in Singapore.

The Virology Section of the Division of Pathology, which is the National HIV Reference Laboratory (NHRL), organises the HIV Proficiency Testing Programme. 

 This proficiency testing scheme provides a platform for participating laboratories to assess their technical competence in serological testing for HIV. It is intended as a regular and objective means for participating laboratories to monitor their performance. A satisfactory result on two consecutive surveys is a prerequisite for accreditation and licensing by Ministry of Health before laboratories may offer HIV testing service. Thereafter, a satisfactory response on two on-going and consecutive surveys is required for laboratories to maintain their accreditation status and license. 

 Samples are despatched thrice a year to participating laboratories. Participants analyse these samples and submit their results to the NHRL within 10 calendar days of distribution of the samples. Following result analysis, NHRL furnishes a report to the participating laboratories which are identifiable by a code known only to the NHRL and the individual participating laboratory.

The Central Tuberculosis Laboratory (CTBL), which is the National Reference Laboratory for AFB (acid-fast bacilli) Smear Testing, is the coordinator of the other proficiency testing scheme. This scheme provides a platform for participating laboratories to assess their technical competence in the performance of smears for acid-fast bacilli. The scheme commenced in 1998. It is intended to confer confidence on participating laboratories and potential users of these laboratories’ services with respect to accuracy and sensitivity of detection. A satisfactory result is also a requirement for Ministry of Health’s approval of laboratories to provide this test. With 2 successive runs earning less than a satisfactory result, the laboratory’s accreditation may be revoked.

Samples are prepared at the CTBL and collected by participating laboratories twice a year, in August and the following February. The results have to be faxed back within 3 working days to CTBL. These results are processed and sent to both Ministry of Health and individual laboratories. Re-tests for those who did not achieve a satisfactory performance are conducted within 1 month of notifying the laboratory concerned. Laboratories intending to participate in any of the above proficiency testing schemes should submit their applications to:

Licensing and Accreditation Branch
Ministry of Health
College of Medicine Building
16 College Road Singapore 169854

Details about these schemes can also be found at the following MOH website: