Category Archives: Pacific Way

The Pacific Way Update 2023- Volume 1

Mr. Karl Romjin

Welcome to the PPTC’s new Financial
Karl Romijn

Karl is a qualified
Chartered Accountant who gained his Bachelor of Commerce and Administration
from Victoria University, Wellington in 2010. His professional roles have
included senior business advisor, commercial account manager, and chief
financial officer for several organisations in Wellington and apart from having
an absolute love for numbers, spreadsheets and financial data, he is an avid
and keen sportsman who continues to play and coach a variety of sports
including football, tennis, and cricket

Mr. John Farrell

Farewell to John Farrell for over 10 years of Service to the PPTC

John is a qualified Chartered Accountant who provided accounting services to a number of not-for-profit organisations including the PPTC. John was Chief Accountant for 14 years with Lotto NZ where he managed a team of accounting professionals. John has also provided accounting services to the National Bank of NZ as well as Child, Youth and Family. John worked for not-for-profit organisations for many years, an area in which he developed broad knowledge and skills in both their accounting and business needs. The PPTC thanks John for his fine efforts as Financial Controller of the PPTC for over 9 years and his dedication and commitment to the Pacific Region in assisting PPTC Consultants in meeting the health needs within Pacific communities. The PPTC wishes John the very best for his approaching retirement and hopes he can now take the long-awaited rest that he is deserving of.

November 2022 Cambodia

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific presented the Fourth Regional Forum of WHO Collaborating Centres in the Western Pacific from 28 to 29 November 2022 in Siem Reap, Cambodia and Phil Wakem (CEO) and John Elliot (PPTC Chair) were invited to attend as representatives of the PPTC. The PPTC has carried the title of WHO Collaborating Centre for External Quality Assessment since 1990. The Forum enabled WHO and its Collaborating Centres to reflect on how they have worked together since the previous Forum, and using the lessons identified from the last 4 years, participants were able to identify opportunities to maximize the contribution of WHO Collaborating Centres in countries to respond to current and future health challenges.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, addressing participants via video message.

Can you help?

If any New Zealand medical laboratories have
items of diagnostic instrumentation that have been recently upgraded or
continue to be stored in the laboratory but are actually surplus to
requirements, the PPTC would be most grateful if such items could be donated
through its Centre to Pacific Island laboratories where there is an exceptional
need. Pacific laboratories have very restricted budgets and often cannot afford
to replace troublesome instrumentation that continues to breakdown and which is
often discontinued because it is so outdated.

The PPTC would also welcome teaching resources in terms of wall charts, Haematology case studies (stained blood films), projector slides, textbooks and journals (within 10 yrs of publication) etc , for teaching purposes in the Pacific, if you no longer have a use for them. Any contribution is so valuable to us.


Phil Wakem
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Pathology Training Centre
New Zealand
Email: pptc @ or phil @

Pacific Way August 2021

COVID-19 Technical Training Support to the Rarotonga Hospital Laboratory Services

 In preparation to open Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ-MFAT), on behalf of the Cook Islands, Te Marae Ora, requested face-to-face technical training support from the Pacific Pathology Training Centre to setup COVID-19 RT-PCR testing in Rarotonga.

 The PPTC accepted this request and in association with the Doherty Institute (Melbourne), delivered face-to-face training in-country which complemented online training that had already been planned for the Cook Islands. Navin Karan, the PPTC’s Project Manager, and Molecular specialist carried out this training for 4 staff in the country which was two weeks in duration, and it is planned that two consolidation one-week visits will follow a month apart.

 Through recent modifications, the laboratory services established a clean room, extraction room, and amplification room for its real-time RT-PCR setup. During the initial two weeks visit, the laboratory was set up with all equipment supplied through Pacific Community (SPC), the workflow was established, and staff were practically trained on all aspects of performing molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the country, which included performing manual extractions from nasopharyngeal swabs. At the completion of practical training, the laboratory successfully performed testing on its  validation panel and went live with clinical sample testing in the second week of May, just before the travel bubble opened on 17 May 2021.

CK 1

Above: Ms Iva Vakalalabure, Laboratory Scientist performing extractions at the PCR laboratory in Rarotonga. Below: Laboratory Scientists, Ms Iva Vakalalabure and Ms Theresa Tatuava performing result analysis on the CFX Maestro after a PCR run. CK 2

COVID-19 Support to Fiji

Establishing PCR testing Facilities in Nadi

The Pacific Pathology Training Centre (PPTC) is currently working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) to design and construct a mobile/container laboratory system which will be established in Nadi, capable of RT-PCR testing and a range of other necessary tests near this port of entry. This laboratory would be expected to perform up to 200 COVID-19 tests a day by RT-PCR.

 As part of this contract, the PPTC is also responsible for the implementation of appropriate validated and verified items of equipment as well as the provide reagent supplies and testing kits that would deliver the set testing menus, required by the medical laboratory service for Nadi.

The construction of the 4 unit mobile/container laboratory is now well underway and its footprint will be sufficient for the delivery of RT-PCR testing to include two thermocyclers, two semi-automated RNA extraction analysers, three biosafety cabinets, two PCR work stations and all other equipment associated with the provision of this service. Testing procedures will be in line with existing Fiji and international standards. Initially, the RT-PCR laboratory will be set up for COVID-19 testing. It will however have sufficient scope to expand on the molecular diagnostic capacity in the future.

 Reagent, Consumables and Equipment Support to Fiji CDC – Suva

 Due to the recent spread of COVID-19 through community transmission in Fiji in April 2021, MFAT requested PPTC to supply gloves, gowns, masks, nasopharyngeal collection swabs and VTM, biohazard specimen bags, PCR reagents, a Thermo Cycler for RT-PCR and refrigerated centrifuges to the Fiji Centre of Communicable Diseases (Fiji CDC) to further strengthen their testing capacity. The PPTC has been responsible for the procurement, delivery and installation of the laboratory equipment and consumables to support RT-PCR testing in Fiji. This included logistical and technical advisory support to ensure safe transportation and installation.

The PPTC has been able to procure most of the items and is currently waiting for the delivery of the centrifuges. Through these activities, the PPTC continues to work in partnership with MFAT in responding to and strengthening the Pacific’s health system, including Fiji.

FJ 1

Setup of Bio-Rad CFX96 Thermocycler by Medica Pacifica Staff  and Fiji CDC staff receiving the “turn-key” CFX96 on Tuesday 25 May 2021

FJ 2

COVID-19 Support to Kiribati

The Pacific Community (SPC) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on behalf of the Government of Kiribati (GoK) engaged the Pacific Pathology Training Centre (PPTC) to oversee the refurbishment of shipping container units, to be used as a mobile PCR laboratory. As part of this project, the PPTC worked with the container supplier to ensure that the testing laboratory was fit for purpose, with remodelling based on detailed specifications discussed with the Kiribati Health team, SPC and the Doherty Institute.

 The PPTC was also responsible for the final shipping and transportation of the container units locally within New Zealand and internationally, to Tarawa, Kiribati. The container units departed New Zealand on 14 April and arrived in Kiribati on 1st  May 2021. A number of setup items were also provided to the GoK to help set up the units in Kiribati. The PPTC has delivered multiple remote sessions with the GoK staff to help connect the units together and have them functional.


Above: Initial placement of container laboratory onto a constructed platform                Below: Inside view of the container PCR laboratory in Kiribati – Extraction room.

KI 2

Electricity and plumbing now awaits completion as does the unpacking and installation of all PCR equipment. Once the laboratory is functional, coordinated training will be provided to dedicated staff by VIDRL (Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory) and the Doherty Institute located in Melbourne.

COVID-19 Support to Niue

The PPTC through the support of WHO, designed and arranged the construction and delivery of a mobile/container laboratory, with the inclusion and implementation of appropriate validated/verified equipment. The PPTC was also responsible for the provision of specialist training of staff as well as the provision of essential reagents and kits to ensure that all laboratory test menu requirements had been met for Niue’s Foou hospital.


Wellington celebration of the mobile/container laboratory completion before its journey to Niue.


Inside view of the container laboratory


Pacific Way April 2021

COVID 19 continues to threaten the Pacific

The global pandemic has had a serious impact on PPTC operations, causing a sizable disruption to our overseas in-country training programmes, and to the Wellington Centre based courses, due to international border closures.

We are however fortunate that both the PPTC’s External Quality Assessment Programme and the  Diploma programme have continued relatively uninterrupted.

 With the virus spreading globally,  all efforts are being made to ensure that countries are prepared and ready to respond, in situations  where COVID infection has been detected.

In the Pacific, countries are increasing their efforts to ensure that their health services have reached an acceptable level of preparedness to rapidly detect and respond to the threats of COVID-19.

The PPTC is continuously assisting in Pacific preparedness against COVID 19 and is currently working with WHO (World Health Organization), NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pacific Ministries of Health, the Pacific Community (SPC), the Australian  Dept  of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Doherty Institute (Melbourne) to establish COVID diagnostic and treatment  facilities in Pacific Countries, the majority of which would face the devastating effects of COVID in the event of community spread .

 Selected PPTC activities (2020-2021) currently delivered to the Pacific can be listed as follows:

 Tokelau: In 2020, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) engaged the Pacific Pathology Training Centre (PPTC) to implement the procurement and refit of a shipping container that would accommodate a GeneXpert with associated training and support. As part of this activity, the PPTC has been required to work with the container supplier to ensure that the mini testing laboratory is fit for purpose, with remodelling based on detailed specifications provided by WHO and SPC. The PPTC has overseen the procurement of a biosafety cabinet and its installation into the container laboratory. Furthermore, the PPTC has procured additional laboratory equipment for basic diagnostic testing (as requested by Tokelau) and has overseen the supply and installation of this equipment into the container as well as its transport to Tokelau.

 The laboratory units have been successfully set up in Nukunonu, allowing for the country to now have a functional laboratory capable of effective diagnosis and management of the disease. Through online zoom sessions, the PPTC has successfully set up a GeneXpert for the testing of COVID-19, a Haematology FBC analyser, Blood Gas analysers, a Cardiac POC Troponin T analyser, and a DCA Vantage for the hospital’s laboratory service. The PPTC staff continue to work with Tokelau laboratory staff, Mr Orisi Matatolu and their Director of Health, Dr Silivia Tavite in setting up request forms, operational manuals, handbooks and clinical guidelines, and continue to work on method development for the local setting. Once international travel resumes, the PPTC intends to travel to Tokelau to provide further training and support to Tokelau.


The Kiribati Medical Services is awaiting the refurbishment of their existing hospital facility to house a molecular testing platform (RT-PCR) to test and diagnose the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This refurbishment has been delayed and will take approximately a year to complete. In order to ensure that testing can commence as soon as possible, it has been proposed that a container unit is refurbished as a mobile PCR laboratory while the hospital facilities are upgraded. The Pacific Community (SPC) and the Government of Kiribati (GoK) have engaged the PPTC to oversee the refurbishment of shipping container units, to be used as a mobile PCR laboratory. As part of this project, the PPTC is currently working with the container supplier to ensure that the testing laboratory is fit for purpose, with remodelling based on detailed specifications discussed with the Kiribati Health team, SPC and the Doherty Institute. The PPTC will oversee the shipping and transportation of the container units locally within New Zealand and internationally, to Tarawa, Kiribati.

The container units are due to depart New Zealand on the 12th of March and is scheduled to arrive in Tarawa on the 27th of March. The laboratory units will then be set up by local trade staff with online support from the PPTC, making it ready for the mass testing of SARS-Cov-2 on RT-PCR platforms.


Healthcare is provided by Foou Hospital, Alofi which has 20 beds, outpatient clinics, pharmacy, X-ray, ultrasound and medical laboratory. Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure/hypertension, gout, asthma and cancer are a major health care concerns in Niue. Although there are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Niue the country needs to be prepared for its introduction as the movement of people recommences with the likelihood of transmission. These preparations will include a testing strategy and capacity appropriate for the population of Niue and its visitors.

 The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for improved biosafety within Niue’s medical laboratory services. However, it has also provided an opportunity to build general capacity, and sustainability. WHO has contracted the PPTC to design and arrange the construction of a mobile/container laboratory, with the inclusion and implementation of appropriate validated/verified equipment that will deliver the range of necessary tests. The PPTC will also  provide the relevant training to staff  as well as reagents and kits delivered on a regular basis to support this  medical laboratory service for Niue’s Foou hospital.

Progress is ongoing, with almost all laboratory equipment and consumables being delivered to the PPTC ready to be installed into the laboratory units. The units are being refurbished in Nelson, and are expected to be in Wellington for the fit-out by early March. These are expected to depart Wellington by mid-March, arriving into Niue early April, after which the PPTC staff will provide on-line zoom training sessions to Niue Health Staff to set-up the laboratory and the installed laboratory equipment.


Fiji CDC  (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

The PPTC has been commissioned through SPC supported by DFAT to conduct a virtual external Laboratory Quality Management Audit of the CDC based in Suva Fiji.

An Audit will be conducted by the PPTC Quality Manager/ Consultant Mr Russell Cole in February using the SLIPTA audit tool modified by the PPTC to include all the elements of the ISO15189 standards.


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has required the rapid introduction of large scale molecular detection methods in diagnostic laboratories across New Zealand. Diagnostic laboratories have had to meet unprecedented demand for testing to support the NZ COVID-19 Public Health response. However, limited reagent supply chains have led to a number of challenges including the rapid introduction of kits and methods to ensure ongoing laboratory testing capacity. New Zealand is now well on the way towards “elimination” of COVID-19 with very low numbers of detected cases each day. Due to the 2019 Coronavirus outbreak, the PPTC has been asked to establish an EQA programme for the SARS-CoV2 disease for the Pacific region. The purpose of the SARS-CoV-2 EQA programme is to provide additional quality assurance for laboratories in the Pacific region, given that there are no positive results being detected.

With the assistance of ESR, who are supplying the programme materials and their technical expertise, a COVID-19 EQA panel has now been  incorporated into the existing PPTC EQAP ( which provides for other medical laboratory science disciplines, supported by the  New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.)

Both WHO and MFAT contributed to the funding of the newly developed COVID-19 panel and its delivery. The PPTC dispatched two cycles of the COVID-19 panel to 23 Pacific Laboratories in 2020, and two additional cycles have been scheduled for  2021. It is hoped that further funding will be available to continue this programme beyond 2021.

Under the COVID-19 support provided to the Pacific Region by the New Zealand Government, the PPTC is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide ongoing laboratory technical advisory services to the Pacific Ministries of Health and to its regional stakeholders including MFAT.

Pacific Way November 2020

The Tokelau’s

The PPTC was requested by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to set up a mobile laboratory unit for Tokelau in response to a potential  COVID outbreak that threatened the small Pacific Nation in May 2020.

 The PPTC  worked with an NZ-based container modification company and successfully arranged the joining of two 20ft containers to house a laboratory setup for Tokelau. This double unit containing an appropriately designed internal infrastructure, along with newly purchased laboratory equipment and consumables was successfully shipped from Auckland to Samoa and then to Tokelau. On receipt in Tokelau’s the portable laboratory was then positioned on the islands hospital campus where water and power were connected.

The PPTC fully equipped the laboratory with general and specialised laboratory equipment and will oversee training of staff on site (once international borders re-open) as well as through zoom. The modification of the container system and the procurement of the equipment began on the 4th of June and setup was completed ready for transportation to Tokelau on the 24th of July. The PPTC’s experience and expertise enable it to provide the same service to other countries if there is a need, provided funding is available.

Tokelau 1

PPTC Staff, Mr Ross Adern ( Administrator for Tokelau), NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and  Trade, Australian AID, and members of the Wellington Tokelau community at an official gathering to celebrate the completion of the portable laboratory before its departure to Tokelau.

Tokelau 3

Tokelau 2

Internal and external photos of the laboratory.

Newly appointed members to the PPTC Board of Trustees

It is of great pleasure that the PPTC welcomes Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu  and Dr Vladimir Osipov as newly appointed members of the PPTC Board of Trustees.

Dr D

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu is currently the  Associate Dean (Pacific) at Otago University’s Wellington campus and is the first Tongan and Pacific biomedical scientist to be appointed to this role within the Division of Health Sciences at Otago.

Dianne completed her PhD in Biomedical Science at Victoria University of Wellington specializing in Immunology based at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. While there, Dianne was a member of the cancer vaccines team and undertook work that explored the modification of these vaccines to generate stronger immune responses against cancer.

Dianne has received numerous awards for her PhD and other research work including the MacDiarmid New Zealand Young Scientist of the Year  – Advancing Human Health & Wellbeing, Colmar Brunton Research Excellence Award, Australasian Society of Immunology BD Science Communication award, Asia Pacific Science Technology Studies Networks New Contributions to Science Technology & Innovation Award – Indigenous studies and the Australasian Society of Immunology Buck Memorial Award among others. Dianne was also recipient of the Royal Order Award- the Most Illustrious Royal Order of Queen Salote Tupou III-Commander, awarded by the late King George Tupou V of Tonga in recognition of scientific achievement.

Dianne has strong research interests in areas of health research relevant to Pacific populations living in New Zealand and in the Region and is an Honorary Research Associate with the Wesfarmers Centre for Vaccines & Infectious Diseases, Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Western Australia and Victoria University of Wellington, and is an Affiliate with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, University of Auckland.

Dr V

Dr Osipov trained in pathology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, followed by a subspecialty training at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA. He is a Fellow of the American College of Pathologists, and of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and is currently Chief Anatomical Pathologist for Southern Community Laboratories based in Wellington as well as Honorary Senior Lecturer, for the University of Otago. Dr Osipov’s areas of interest include gastrointestinal, skin, lung, urologic and orthopaedic pathology.

The PPTC External Quality Assessment Programme

The PPTC EQA programme has provided its quality service to the laboratories of the Asia–Pacific region for over 30 years. Since 1990 it has been recognised by WHO as a collaborating centre for External Quality Assessment in Health Laboratory Services.

Funded through the NZ Overseas Development programme, this service is delivered to over 100 regional laboratories.

It is provided to National Pacific laboratories free of charge, and this provides invaluable benefit to their national healthcare, directly impacting patient health outcomes. Close to 22 surveys are dispatched throughout the year covering the seven medical laboratory disciplines.

  • Haematology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Blood Transfusion Science
  • Infectious Disease Serology
  • Anatomical Pathology
  • Molecular Diagnostics – COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) (recently added to the PPTC Programme)

Due to the 2019 Coronavirus outbreak, the PPTC was asked by WHO to establish an EQA programme for the SARS-CoV2 disease for the Pacific region. The purpose of the SARS-CoV-2 EQA programme is to provide additional quality assurance for laboratories in the Pacific region, to prove the accuracy of detection rates.

 Pacific Joint Incident Management Team (JIMT)

Since early January 2020, the World Health Organization in the Pacific has been working closely alongside Pacific Governments and Ministries of Health, in collaboration with partners, to ensure that countries are well prepared to respond to the threat of COVID-19.

The PPTC has been invited to join as a member of the Pacific Joint Incident Management Team (JIMT, Lab cell) and WHO is coordinating with Pacific partners that constitute this team, to bring together resources and assist Pacific countries’ readiness to delay the spread of the virus and mitigate negative health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.

Activities that this  team is involved with include:

  • Training and technical guidance on critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19
  • Working with government and community sectors
  • Procuring critical laboratory and medical supplies
  • Communicating with the public and engaging with communities

Greetings to you all,

 Wellington based training courses 2015.

This year the PPTC is offering 7 courses and these include:

  • Haematology and Blood Cell Morphology: 2 March – 27 March 2015
  • Health and Safety and Infectious Diseases: 13 April – 8 May 2015
  • Laboratory Quality Management Systems: 25 May – 19 June 2015
  • Biochemistry: 13 July – 7 August 2015
  • Microbiology: 31 August – 25 September 2015
  • Phlebotomy: 5 October – 23 October 2015
  • Blood Transfusion Science: 2 November – 27 November 2015

 New Centre Based courses for 2015

 Health and Safety and Infectious Diseases

 a)            Health and Safety Component:

Implementing a laboratory health and safety programme, hazard identification, risk assessment, laboratory premises and design, biohazard waste and disposal of contaminated material; Personal protection; Code of conduct; Staff health and medical surveillance; Administrative procedures; Chemical and dangerous goods storage; Material data safety sheets; Major incident response; Laboratory emergency planning; and Laboratory biosecurity concepts.

 b)           Infectious Diseases Component:

Notifiable diseases; Role of public health; Surveillance and monitoring disease outbreak; Workforce occupational exposure; Communicable diseases; What makes an epidemic; Vaccine availability; Bacterial causes of infectious diseases: Isolation procedures to identify and confirm major bacterial pathogens associated with gastrointestinal infections, seafood poisoning and marine environments, food and water contaminating organisms; Bacterial agents of pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis; Agents of sexually transmitted infections. Viral causes of infectious diseases: a selective summary of disease specific viruses such as gastrointestinal viruses; respiratory viruses; parasites of infectious disease and mycology review.


The PPTC is offering a three week training course on Phlebotomy. The course contents will address the following topics:

The role of a phlebotomist in the medical laboratory diagnostic process; Anatomy and physiology of specific human tissue (This will take into consideration sites of blood collection, and overall discussion with reference to the circulatory system and normal Haemostasis/Blood coagulation). Patient safety and safety of procedure; The practise of Infection control; Adverse incidents with the application of first aid; The Laboratory and its sample collection policy with reference to laboratory collection forms, Patient identification, Post collection requirements, Tests profiles and Test requirements; Medical abbreviations and medical terminology; Pre analytical variables such as patient status, Collection techniques, Sample storage and transportation; Blood collection (venous and Capillary); Patient assessment and preparation including considerations for both elderly patients and neonatal patients; Site preparation; Sample collection devices and equipment in terms of antiseptics, dressings, evacuated blood collection equipment’s, needles and syringes, tourniquets and sample collection tubes; The Collection process and post collection process for both venous and capillary samples; Blood culture collection; Specialised collection procedures, collection and handling of non-blood specimens (Urines, faeces, sputum, saliva, swabs, mycological samples and seminal fluid, in terms of equipment, collection, specimen stability, sterility, storage, transportation and handling; The handling and transportation of aspirates, Histology and Cytology samples; Specialised test procedures such as Bleeding time, Mantoux test and skin prick testing.

 In country teaching and training

Short term in-country teaching workshops have proven extremely valuable and have made an immediate and significant impact in terms of capacity expansion and up skilling personnel, however on-going consolidation programmes are essential if such a difference in the development or enhancement of skill is to be further advanced and maintained.

The PPTC is currently compiling a potential list of technical consultants who would be prepared to travel the Pacific region on request to assist with capacity building and strengthening  of Pacific Island laboratories.

The PPTC has labelled the situation in the Pacific in terms of Haematology and Biochemistry  as requiring intense corrective action and therefore it plans to intensify its presence through in – country training in 2015 recruiting additional Haematology and Biochemistry expert consultants to increase both frequency and coverage of visits across the Pacific. Consultancies are generally 1 to 2 weeks in  duration  and dependent on PPTC funding availability.

If you are a qualified NZ registered Medical Laboratory Scientist with at least 15 yrs experience in Haematology , Biochemistry or Laboratory Management and would like to be added to our list of consultants we would like to hear from you.

If you could forward a copy of your current CV  to the PPTC  it would be most appreciated.

Teaching resources

Depending on the availability of funding, the PPTC intends to supply appropriate learning material (text books, journals, etc) to Pacific laboratories that are desperately in need of educational resources so as a reference centre can be established within the laboratory as a promotional way forward in terms of professional development.

Can you help?

If any New Zealand medical laboratories have a surplus of teaching resources in terms of wall charts, Haematology stained blood films, projector slides, textbooks, journals etc, the PPTC would be most grateful if they could be donated through its Centre to Pacific Island laboratories where there is an exceptional need.

Overseas Travel:                                   

January 2015: Phil Wakem and Navin Karan both attended the PIHOA (Pacific Island Health Officers Association) meeting in Guam. The theme of this meeting focused on the enhancement of  quality with reference to the public health laboratory services in the US affiliated Pacific Islands through regional capacity building.

Russell Cole, the PPTC’S Laboratory Quality Manager carried out his first LQMS visit to Kiribati and during his stay also visited the Marine Training Centre to assess the laboratory’s quality programme.

Pacific Infectious Substances Shipping Training (ISST) -Nadi, Fiji , 9- 11 February 2015,

Navin attended the above  training workshop provided by WHO in Nadi  Fiji . The training addressed shipping requirements for all potentially infectious substances, focusing particularly  on highly infectious materials.  He also presented a paper on “Using New Zealand Laboratories for Diagnosis and Confirmation of Emerging Infectious Diseases” as part of the training session on “Strengthening Laboratory Preparedness to Emerging Infectious Diseases”.

ISST Fiji 2015

Farewell to Clare Murphy

Clare M


Clare is a NZ graduate from the Australian National University. She started her career in Laboratory work at what was then Gisborne Hospital, becoming a specialist in Clinical Chemistry at Wellington Hospital working mostly in Quality, initially in quality control, and latterly in quality management where she became the Laboratory Services Quality Manager for Capital and Coast DHB. Clare performed this role for many years.

Since 1987 and for nearly three decades on, Clare pioneered and managed the  PPTC  Clinical Chemistry External Quality Assessment Programme for laboratories across the Pacific and South East Asia. Clare initially began as a volunteer and took responsibility for 12 Pacific participating laboratories using Wellington Hospital QC material. From this, the programme has now expanded to 58 participants which now utilises RCPA QAP material and statistics allowing the programme to monitor a large variety of analytes. Clare has worked closely with the RCPA QAP, and their support and generosity is greatly appreciated by the PPTC.

It is of great sadness that we are to say farewell to Clare as the PPTC Regional External Quality Assurance Co-ordinator for Biochemistry. She has given total dedication and commitment to this programme and has contributed greatly to the education and capacity strengthening of Clinical Laboratories throughout the Pacific and South East Asian regions. The PPTC is very fortunate however to retain Clare as a consultant and as such, she will continue  to  offer support to the Centre and to Pacific Laboratories  in terms of  guidance and expertise in such areas as Laboratory Quality Management and REQA.

Apart from PPTC responsibilities, Clare continues to hold the position of  Point of Care Testing Coordinator at Wellington Hospital, New Zealand.

 Contact Us:

Phone and E-Mail:     Telephone (64) (4) 389 6294,


Postal Address  :         PO Box 7013,  Wellington 6242 , New Zealand                                                       


Greetings from the PPTC.

Laboratories are an essential component of public health systems, particularly for disease surveillance, diagnosis, prevention and treatment.  Health laboratories in Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) have identified multiple challenges to effective performance, including financing, qualified and skilled workforce, information, medical products and technologies, service delivery and leadership and governance.

 The PPTC is recognised internationally as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in terms of teaching and training programmes provided to National Health Laboratories of Pacific Island Countries. The PPTC is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating centre. It offers excellent training programmes both in New Zealand and Pacific Island settings. These short term in-country teaching workshops have proven extremely valuable and have made an immediate and significant impact in terms of capacity expansion and up skilling personnel, however on-going consolidation programmes are essential if such a difference in the development or enhancement of skill is to be further advanced and maintained.

 The goal of the PPTC is “to assist national health laboratories of the Pacific region to develop a laboratory service that is appropriate, affordable and sustainable and will provide immediate benefits to the healthcare settings in which they are used”.

 New Zealand  based courses provided by the PPTC at the Centre this  year were as follows:

Haematology and Blood Film examination   4 August – 29 August

Haematology continues to be weak in performance in Pacific Island Laboratories and this is due to a devastating lack of expertise in “Blood film examination and interpretation” throughout the region. The PPTC offered a 4 week training course in August of this year at its Centre in Wellington and four students attended: June Teiti  from the Cook Islands, Nerisa Faumuina from American Samoa, and Bridgit Kavana and Niam Pokale both from Papua New Guinea. The course was a great success and the students gained a great deal of knowledge and skill over the 4 week duration.

Wellington Centre Based Training Course  Back L-R - Russell-PPTC, Niam-PNG, Nerisa-American Samoa, Phil-PPTC, Linda-PPTC. Front L-R - June-Cook Islands, Bridgit-PNG.
Back L-R: Russell-PPTC, Niam-PNG, Nerisa-American Samoa, Phil-PPTC, Linda-PPTC.Front L-R – June-Cook Islands, Bridgit-PNG.

Microbiology 1 – 26 September

The PPTC also offered a 4 week training course in Microbiology in September at its Centre in Wellington and three students attended : Senisaleti Pasikala from Tonga, Felix Kokoa from Tuvalu, and Bernard Tatireta from Kiribati.

This was also a great success in terms of the learning experience the students received. The PPTC also facilitated two visitng lectures from the WHO Collaborating Centre for STD and Neisseria Reference Laboratory, The Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney who updated the students on N.gonorrhoeae identification and antimicrobial sensitivity testing over three days.

Back L-R: Russell-PPTC, Bernard-Kiribati, Felix-Tuvalu, Ratan-Sydney Visiting Lecture, Pinati-Samoa. Front L-R: Rodney-Sydney Visiting Lecture, Seni-Tonga
Back L-R: Russell-PPTC, Bernard-Kiribati, Felix-Tuvalu, Ratan-Sydney Visiting Lecture, Pinati-Samoa.Front L-R: Rodney-Sydney Visiting Lecture, Seni-Tonga


Laboratory Quality Management 29- 24 October

The third course offered for this year is the Laboratory Quality Management course. Three students attended this course and they were Ravendra Prasad – CWM Hospital , and Asena Bukadua – Labasa Hospital, Fiji and Tekaibeti Taratake from the DOTS TB Laboratory,  Kiribati.

L-R: Sharon-Kenepuru Hospital, Ravendra-Fiji, Asena-Fiji, Tekaibeti-Kiribati, Russell-PPTC
L-R: Sharon-Kenepuru Hospital, Ravendra-Fiji, Asena-Fiji, Tekaibeti-Kiribati, Russell-PPTC

Blood Transfusion Science  3 – 28  November 2014

This will be the final course in Wellington for this yea, and this currently is in session at this moment. We are pleased that the New Zealand Blood Service will once again be offering their expertise in terms of teaching and training to our nominated students. Three students are attending this course and they are: Tejal Chauhan from Princess Margaret Hospital, Tuvalu, Puaseiesi Pila from LBJ Tropical Medical Centre, American Samoa and Nabiri Tiaon from Tugaru Central Hospital, Kiribati.

Overseas Travel:                                     

In July of this year, the implementation of Laboratory Quality Management Systems (LQMS) continued with visits carried out in Tonga (Navin Karan), Kiribati (Russell Cole) and Samoa ( Filipo Faiga).

Navin then travelled to the four Federated States of Micronesia in the northern region of the Pacific and delivered teaching and training in Microbiology as a commitment to our in-country teaching programme.

Rob Siebers visited Samoa in September to assess progress in LQMS as did Clare Murphy in Vanuatu.

 Phil Wakem travelled to the Cook Islands in late September to meet with the staff and to assess LQMS, and in October, Phil, Navin and Rob will travel to Fiji to attend the Fiji Medical Laboratory Science Conference which is to be held on the 9-11 of the month.

Navin will then continue on to Kiribati and later to American Samoa to complete his LQMS visits for this year.  Towards the end of October, Rob is scheduled to visit Tonga, and Russell will visit Samoa which will also complete their travel for this year.

 Phil returns to Manila in November to attend an international forum of World Health Organisation Collaborating  Centres. The PPTC is a registered Collaborating Centre of WHO,  and Phil will attend this forum  along with 200 participants from 124 WHO Collaborating Centres  located in the Western Pacific Region.