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News from ARAC

1. ARAC trains newcomers to ARAC peer evaluation teams

Emirates International Accreditation Centre EIAC in Dubai hosted the 3rd ARAC newcomer peer evaluators training course during the period 27-31 March 2022 to impart future teams of ARAC peer-evaluators with a view to improving ARAC peer-evaluation activities.

The training targeted potential ARAC peer-evaluators from the assessors’ staff of ARAC Members. Its objective was to thoroughly introduce the ARAC peer-evaluation process in order to enable the participants to take part in future evaluations of ARAC accreditation body members.

Eighteen lead assessors from five ARAC accreditation body members took part in this training course. The participants were selected according to ARAC Procedures, while giving priority to those applicants who had more competence for the ARAC MLA scopes that lacked resources in terms of peer-evaluation (Inspection, Management System Certification, Calibration, Medical Testing, Product Certification and Certification of Persons).

The training was led by 2 trainers: Mr Gokhan Birbil from TURKAK and Mr Mahmoud Eltayeb from EGAC and the ARAC secretariat covered the topics related to evaluator training and management.
The training, based on both presentations and group work, considered the following points:

  • The evaluation process as set out in IAF/ILAC A2 an ARAC MD 002;
  • The use of ISO/IEC 17011;
  • The applicable IAF&ILAC documents;
  • The reporting process, IAF/ILAC-A3 and tools;
  • The evaluation of the AB’s office and witnessing;
  • How to get prepared for an evaluation;
  • How to report findings: phrasing, classification and closing;
  • The reporting procedure and the decision to be made in MLA Group meetings.

As a follow-up of this training course, the successful participants will take part in future evaluations of ARAC-Member Accreditation Bodies (ABs), first as trainee team members, then as team members.

2. Arab Accreditation Week 2022:

In its third edition and on the occasion of World Accreditation Day 2022 ARAC organized the Arab Accreditation Week (AAW) during the period 05-09 June 2022 under the theme “Together towards enhancing the role of accreditation in supporting the Sustainability in Economic Growth and the Environment in the Arab region”.

Several online activities held during the AAW demonstrated how the accreditation infrastructure in the Arab region could be further developed, drawing attention to how accreditation and conformity assessment provide global solutions for global issues and how ARAC is seeking to help organizations measure, manage and/or report sustainable economic growth and environmental performance, in addition to capacity building activities that implemented to strengthen the ARAC members competencies.

2.1 Discussion workshop on ARAC new Strategy 2023 to 2025

Further to the ARAC Executive Committee decision to develop the ARAC new strategy for the period 2023-2025, this workshop aimed to identify the main areas of specific importance for the development of the new strategy based on SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) & PEST (Political, Economical, Social, and Technological) analysis of the current situation.

The inputs from these main areas will provide the basis for formulating the ARAC current position and a desired position for 2025. In order to reach the desired position, the new strategy should cover some strategic and specific objectives, actions and milestones, an updated vision and mission and a set of core values.

2.2 ARAC Capacity Building activities:

2.2.1 Regional Workshop on accreditation of Biobanking

Following the extension of the ILAC MRA to include the accreditation of biobanks as a Level 2 activity using, ISO 20387 “Biobanking – General requirements for biobanking” as the Level 3 normative document, this regional workshop will help Accreditation Body personnel and other ARAC stakeholders interested in the development of accreditation in this exciting area.

The main purpose of this workshop is to provide an overview of ISO 20387 and share the experiences of using the standard from both the Biobank and Accreditation Body perspectives and consider the steps needed to establish an accreditation program for Biobanking.

2.2.2 Regional Workshop on the new IAF Mandatory Document IAF MD 25

In order to harmonize the accreditation practices among ARAC members and support the enhancement of members’ capacities in operating existing accreditation schemes of common interest to ARAC members, ARAC organized the regional workshop on the new IAF MD25:2022 “Criteria for Evaluation of Conformity Assessment Schemes”. The objective of this session is to prepare the ABs as well as the certification bodies (CBs) in the Arab region to fulfil the requirements of this MD.

These online training sessions covered the minimum requirements for conformity assessment schemes (CAS) to be applied by ARAC member ABs when evaluating national, regional or international CAS to ensure they meet requirements specified in ISO/IEC 17011, Clause 4.6.3.

2.3 Webinar on the role of Accreditation and Conformity assessment in achieving sustainability

Economic and environmental objectives in the Arab region

The event, which comes in the context of the implementation of ARAC communication strategy, will further contribute to strengthen the visibility of ARAC inside and outside the accreditation community, supporting recognition and acceptance of the ARAC MLA and services/products provided under accreditation issued by the ARAC AB Members.

By the end of the awareness sessions, the participants had good understanding on how accreditation and conformity assessment provide global solutions for global issues and how ARAC is seeking to help organizations measure, manage and/or report sustainable economic growth and environmental performance.

2.4 Celebration of the WAD 2022

The online celebration included presentations from ARAC and the regional partner organizations to highlight the role of conformity assessment and accreditation in achieving Sustainability in Economic Growth and the Environment in the Arab region. In addition, examples shared on how accreditation and CA services may be applied to meet objectives such as increasing trade, addressing health and safety concerns, contributing to the fight against climate change and protecting the environment by ensuring compliance with standards.

3. ARAC Proficiency Testing Programs:

With the aim to enhance the measurement capability and traceability in countries and economies of the Arab region through a better regional scientific infrastructure, and with the participation of more than 300 laboratories from the Arab region, seven Proficiency Testing (PT) programs have been implemented so far under the auspice of ARAC:

  • ARAC PT 001 “Contaminants in Food: Trace elements (Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Cobalt, Fluoride, Iron, Lead, Molybdenum, Mercury, Manganese, Selenium, Total Sulphur, Zinc) in milk powder
  • ARAC PT 002 “SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Molecular Proficiency Testing Program
  • ARAC PT 003: “Pesticides in food
  • ARAC PT Program PT 004 “Veterinary residues in beef, chicken and fish
  • ARAC PT Program PT 005 “Dioxins and PCBs in food
  • ARAC PT Program PT 006 “Aflatoxins in agriculture crops

In addition, and following the request of the ARAC Technical Committee to implement a new SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Molecular PT Program, ARAC initiated ARAC PT 007 program in June 2022 with the participation of more than 70 accredited medical laboratories in the Arab region

It should be highlighted that that the results of the participation of the ARAC AB laboratories in the ARAC PT programs are using the peer evaluation process conducted by ARAC with the aim to check the compliance of ARAC ABs with ILAC/IAF A2 and ARAC applicable requirements. In addition, this PT program will enhance the measurement capability and traceability of measurements in countries and economies of the Arab region through a better regional scientific infrastructure.