African Society for Laboratory Medicine to Launch in Ethiopia
International partners convene for creation of first laboratory medicine professional organization
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – A three-day stakeholders’ meeting will convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 14 to launch the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), an organization that will advance the laboratory profession and networks in Africa, advocate for the critical role and needs of laboratory medicine and develop institutional capacity critical for strengthening and sustaining health systems.
The meeting will bring together participants from 36 countries, including officials from eight Ministers of Health from African countries, and leading organizations specializing in strengthening laboratory systems from Africa and around the world. Noted speakers and attendees include former U.S. President Bill Clinton via video stream, Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and representatives from the African Union, UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The launch of ASLM is the “culmination of years of concerted efforts led by African institutions and international development partners to ensure that laboratory medicine in Africa meets the highest scientific standards,” according to ASLM Board of Directors Chair John Nkengasong, Ph.D. Nkengasong also serves as the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Chief of the International Laboratory Branch in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Global HIV/AIDS.
WHO’s Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO), CDC, PEPFAR, UNAIDS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and other stakeholders have long led regional and international efforts to raise the status and practice of laboratory medicine in Africa.
ASCP Executive Vice President E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP)CM explains, “the creation of ASLM is an initiative aimed directly at the target of improving patient health care worldwide.”
ASLM will serve as a professional body to guide laboratory network development and strengthening efforts in Africa, guide the process of certification of laboratory medicine training, and work with WHO-AFRO and other partners to develop and implement laboratory policies and guidelines in the African region, as stipulated by Resolutions 58 and 59 of WHO-AFRO.
Quality laboratory services are not just the gateway to treatment and management of priority diseases, laboratory data are key for surveillance purposes and policy decision making.
Some 70 percent of physician decisions are based on laboratory results. Laboratory accreditation is critical for ensuring the quality of those results and fostering improvement in other sectors of the health care system.
The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) is a Pan-African professional body working with countries to advocate for the critical role and needs of laboratory medicine. ASLM envisions all African nations providing affordable access to quality laboratory services, which make possible effective treatment and prevention of disease and a better life for all people.