Improving Trust in Forensic Science
The accreditation supports public health systems in West Africa, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has a regional standardization mechanism called ECOSHAM. The latter allowed the adoption of two regional standards, for the benefit of all member states, relating to hand sanitizers and barrier masks for use by the general public. The ECOWAS accreditation mechanism is based on the Ghanaian accreditation body GhaNAS, the Nigerian accreditation body (NiNAS) and the West African Accreditation System (SOAC) which covers eight member states. The three bodies are taking over in order to accredit the product certification services of the member states for certification schemes based on the two validated standards.
The issue of the quality of masks and hand sanitizers has become central around the world in the fight against COVID-19. Ensuring that populations will be protected will depend on ensuring the quality of preventive control means, in particular masks and hand sanitizers solutions, namely standardization to set the performance / conformity criteria of products, conformity assessment to ensure that the criteria are met by the producing companies and the accreditation to guarantee the entire system by validating the competence of conformity assessment bodies.
NiNAS and SOAC have opened new accreditation programs including ISO IEC 17065 in order to meet the expectations of product certification services in their respective member states: Nigeria for NiNAS, (Benin Burkina Faso Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal , Togo) for SOAC a multi economy AB. Within the region, at least three certification bodies have already started certification of masks nationwide with country brands. With the regional approach, the regional ECOQMARK Brand will be highlighted. NiNAS and SOAC, and later GhaNAS’ accreditation can thus validate a regional certification scheme based on two standards adopted by all member states: ECOSTAND 82 on barrier masks for general public use and ECOSTAND 83 standard on the quality of products for hand sanitizers.
Results and impact
There is a significant added value in accreditation in the area of SDG 3 “Health and Well-being” when it allows certification services to be accredited for the control of essential products that protect populations from the pandemic. Indeed, West Africa has an average of 386 million, including at least 20 million people over 60 (2005 data) who constitute the most vulnerable age group.