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ASLM leaders, African Ministries of Health, and dignitaries from national laboratory services gathered at the inaugural ASLM Conference.  <a href="http://www.aslm2012.org/images/stories/opening.jpg" target=blank>Click here to enlarge image.</a>
ASLM leaders, African Ministries of Health, and dignitaries from national laboratory services gathered at the inaugural ASLM Conference. Click here to enlarge image.

ASLM Unveils Far-reaching Vision to Improve Laboratory Medicine

Monday, December 17, 2012

“ASLM’s intent is to improve health care in Africa by strengthening laboratory services. One of ASLM’s goals is to have 30,000 trained and certified laboratory professionals by 2020. ASCP is bringing our expertise.”
—Patricia Tanabe, MPA, MLS(ASCP)CM

The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) presented a far-reaching strategic vision to improve laboratory medicine by 2020 during its inaugural conference held Dec. 1–7 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 1,100 health professionals from 62 nations—34 from Africa—attended the conference, “Accurate Laboratory Diagnostics: A Pillar of Quality Health Care,” which was sponsored by ASCP, laboratory organizations, and aid and industry partners.  

Opening remarks were made by the Health Minister of the Republic of South Africa, and Ministers and Deputy Ministers from Nigeria, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire, and Kenya. Comments were also made by representatives of the World Health Organization-Regional Office for Africa, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and ASLM.

The participants shared their scientific endeavors, experience, and best practices in laboratory medicine. They also participated in robust discussions and debates on key diagnostic issues affecting the delivery of health care in Africa.

“The conference was one of a kind in bringing professionals together to discuss laboratory medicine in Africa,” says Tsehaynesh Messele, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of ASLM. “It will certainly help strengthen the laboratory medicine profession across the continent.”

ASLM’s intent is to improve health care in Africa by strengthening laboratory services, according to Patricia Tanabe, MPA, MLS(ASCP)CM, Executive Director  at the Board of Certification and ASCP Vice President.

“One of ASLM’s goals is to have 30,000 trained and certified laboratory professionals by 2020,” Ms. Tanabe says. “ASCP is bringing our expertise in training and certification to assist ASLM in its mission. We’re here to help ASLM realize its goal.”

ASLM’s strategic vision for 2020 is based on four goals: improving African laboratory workforce development; increasing laboratory accreditation; elevating Africa national and regional regulatory environments; and creating a network of national public health reference laboratories.

In addition to presenting ASLM’s strategic vision, the conference also provided a forum for laboratory professionals, policy and health delivery experts, government and non-governmental organizations, public and private sector groups, and the diagnostics industry to intersect, learn, and strengthen networks, according to Trevor Peter, Chair of the ASLM Board of Directors and Conference Chair.

“It was exciting to see ASLM and all of the participants own this process of accreditation and workforce development,” says Shannon Heard Castle, MBA, Director of ASCP’s Global Outreach Initiative. “Accreditation, workforce development, and continuing education are no longer ideas being pushed by outsiders. ASLM has become its own entity. The organization put together an outstanding conference in a very short period of time and did it flawlessly.”

Ms. Tanabe served on a six-person panel that presented ways to strengthen the work force in Africa. She specifically spoke about the certification process. Ms. Tanabe observed that there were a large number of attendees who were not familiar with ASCP as an organization or its international certification program.

“ASCP and the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) exhibited at the conference,” Ms. Tanabe says. “There was a lot of interest generated for our international certification program.” She also met with ASCP-International Certification Ambassador Program Advisory Board members from Nigeria and Thailand.

Ms. Castle gave a presentation, co-authored by Cathy Robinson, MSA, MLS(ASCP)CM, and Wendy Arneson, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, on the importance of education and mentoring as key components in building laboratory capacity.

 


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