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Wellington Lab Visit

Wellington Lab Hosts Pacific Scientists

Published on: Awanui- The Lab- 21st April 2023

Acknowledging Awanui- The Lab for this publication.

Last week, our team at the Wellington hospital lab welcomed scientists from the Pacific Pathology Training Centre (PPTC) for a tour of the laboratory.

“The PPTC does great work in providing training and support for medical laboratories across the Pacific and South-East Asia. These visits are an opportunity for their scientists to see first-hand the work we are doing, all our equipment and automation, and to support their continuing education,” says Wellington Operations Manager Max Reed.

PPTC senior manager Russell Cole says the new staff and students at the Centre are “scientific missionaries.”

“All our scientists have different specialist areas and will be involved in consultation work across the Pacific region’s laboratories.

These labs are often not as technically advanced or automated to the level we see here in Wellington, so this visit enables our scientists to build their knowledge, future vision and expertise, so they can train the trainers across the Pacific and inspire them towards international accreditation standards of practice.”

Wellington Lab Visit

L-R- Emmanuel Marshall (Consultant Laboratory technology and Information Systems and Education Manager, Russel Cole ( Laboratory Quality Manager  and Microbiology Specialist), Angela Lewis (Consultant Molecular Testing Platforms and Portable Laboratory Projects Manager, Telesia Apikotoa (Consultant Laboratory Quality Management and Blood Transfusion Specialist)

Pacific Way Update – April 2018

The PPTC has recently published a book which covers the past 30 years of its history and training activities at the Wellington Centre, the South Pacific and Asian regions.

This account will be of interest to the many members of the Institute who have contributed so much to the success of the PPTC over this period.

Please contact the PPTC for a copy. The cover page is illustrated below:

PPTC History

The intention of the book is twofold: to provide a record of this period and to foster a continuing interest in the development of the health laboratory services of the Pacific Island and Asian regions.

Despite its small size and limited resources, the Centre has become a major player in the development of medical laboratories and blood transfusion services in the Pacific Island region. It is also a small but significant part of the New Zealand overseas development aid programme.

The PPTC began with the aim of providing short-term technical training programmes in basic medical laboratory disciplines which would be appropriate, affordable and sustainable and could bring immediate benefits to the work settings in which they would be used.

While the PPTC has broadened its laboratory training programmes to meet the changing needs and new demands of the region’s health services, this philosophy still remains the Centre’s focus in 2018.

The Centre has international respect for the excellence of its programmes and has provided a continuing source of training and technical expertise for health laboratory workers throughout the Pacific Island and Asian regions.

 This contribution was recognised when the Centre was designated a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization in 1990 and it continues in this role to the present time.

In recording these events it is fitting to say that none of this would have been possible without the initial and continuing support of the following organisations and people:

  •  New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • New Zealand Red Cross
  • World Health Organization
  • New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Science
  • Wellington Hospital
  • Department of laboratory Services , Wellington Hospital
  • New Zealand Blood Transfusion Service
  • Norman Kirk Trust

 About the Author 


Dr Ron Mackenzie (QSO, PhD, FNZIMLS)  the co-founder of the PPTC and author of the book is a retired medical laboratory scientist who led the PPTC from its earliest days on the Wellington Hospital campus. He is a life member of the NZIMLS  and worked in hospital medical laboratories from the early 1950’s in Kaitaia, Auckland, Masterton, Invercargill and Wellington.  He worked as a WHO and Red Cross medical Laboratory consultant,   and was a member of the first New Zealand Civilian Surgical Team to Qui Nhon, Vietnam in 1963. Ron was awarded the QSO in 1993  for the major role he had played in the development of the medical laboratory and blood transfusion services of the South Pacific and Asian regions.

Newly appointed staff to the PPTC


It is with pleasure that the PPTC Board of Governance welcomes Vichet Khieng to join the laboratory specialist team. Vichet graduated in 2008 with a Batchelor of Medical Laboratory Science from the University of Otago and majored in both advanced clinical biochemistry & diagnostic molecular pathology. In 2010, soon after gaining registration as a medical laboratory scientist while working at Dunedin hospital, he acted as technical manager at the Hawkes Bay community laboratories. He was responsible for the biochemistry department including reviews of the internal and external QC, manuals, and preparation for IANZ auditing. Vichet relocated to  Wellington in 2012 and joined the department of biochemistry at Wellington hospital. He has had wide experience in NZ hospital and community laboratories and will be a valuable addition to the PPTC staff.

External Quality Assessment in Haematology


Elizabeth Tough

Is a New Zealand registered medical laboratory scientist who has over 50 years experience in the leadership of blood film examination and evaluation.

In 1967 Elizabeth underwent 5 years of professional training at Wellington hospital and on completion, became scientist in charge of the general haematology laboratory and chief morphologist in the years to follow. She also became the hospital laboratory expert in blood parasitology and bone marrow preparation for microscopic evaluation.

Elizabeth has worked with the PPTC as a lecturer in blood parasitology and more recently has accepted the shared role of coordinator and haematology consultant for the PPTC’s haematology EQA programme

A brief update – March 2016

Established in 1980, the Pacific Paramedical Training Centre [PPTC] is a not-for-profit incorporated organization located on the  Wellington Hospital campus, New Zealand. The PPTC is a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization, Western Pacific Region, and its mission is to provide training in the appropriate Medical Laboratory Sciences, external quality assurance programmes and its development related assistance for the clinical laboratory and blood transfusion services. Particular emphasis being placed on the developing countries of the Pacific  Region.

The teaching and development aid programmes offered by the PPTC are governed by one principle: ‘They must be appropriate, affordable and sustainable for the health care setting in which they will be used’. The emphasis is on appropriate and practical short-term training,  that will ensure immediate benefit for the trainees in their work setting. In 1990 the PPTC was designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for External Quality Assurance and is now the leading provider of EQA Programmes to the Pacific Islands.

In 2006 the PPTC commenced a Distance Learning Programme in conjunction with WHO and now provides courses in the majority of the Medical Laboratory Science disciplines in addition to the teaching and training courses provided in-country and at its Centre in Wellington.

The PPTC has extensive experience working in laboratory strengthening throughout the Pacific and it is well respected by Pacific Governments for its ability to understand and work within Pacific cultures.

Through the continued support of the New Zealand Overseas Development Programme, the PPTC  has been granted a new five year contract (2016 – 2020) in order to deliver it’s Pacific Laboratory Quality Accreditation Programme.

The  activity design on which the five year contract is based, was formulated through  a comprehensive analysis of the issues and state of laboratory services in the Pacific.  As a result, it has been decided to target investment to four specific countries as being more likely to achieve sustainable, transformational development than spreading services too thinly across the region.  Countries selected for specific investment include Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

This activity aligns itself with the New Zealand Aid Strategic goals to improve the health of the people in these Pacific countries as a key achievement focus area and  investment priority.

This initiative will improve the health of our Pacific people and the regional health status against infectious disease outbreaks and enable early detection of chronic diseases through improved medical laboratory diagnostic services. It will improve Pacific Health through quality improvement measures established within the medical laboratory services. Such measures will ensure that the services are appropriate, affordable and sustainable to support diagnostic health services and treatment options.

 This will be achieved by

  • Increasing the workforce capability and capacity of Pacific laboratories.
  • Strengthening the infrastructure and expanding the scope of testing within laboratory services.

This programme to be delivered by the PPTC will:

  • Develop an accreditation framework for each selected Pacific Medical Laboratory, that enables it to be measured against international ISO15189 standards;
  • Support laboratories in the four selected countries to continue the progress towards the development and achievement of internationally recognised accreditation standards.

This will be achieved in the following way:

  • Improve laboratory capability and capacity for the detection and management of infectious diseases, their diagnosis  and the monitoring risk of non-communicable diseases and associated safe management of blood transfusion products.
  • Increase the quality of laboratory sensitivity testing and antibiotic advice to clinicians to ensure that the most appropriate antibiotic is used. This will contribute to international endeavours to address the rise of anti-microbial resistance.
  • Increase the sustainability of laboratory services by increasing the range of tests able to be performed in-country, thus increasing the timeliness of results and reducing the reliance on expensive off-shore referral testing;
  • Provide an external quality assurance programme and regional benchmarking for laboratory performance and associated risks.
  • Provide foundational courses for Pacific laboratory technicians through in- country centre based training and distance learning.