Contributed by Dr. Stella Raymondo, IFCC National Representative, Uruguay
As general information, Uruguay is one of the smallest countries of South America with three million and a quarter of people, and about of one hundred of labs.
The Uruguayan Biochemical Association (ABU in Spanish), a member of the IFCC in Latin America, is deeply committed to the improvement of all professionals working in the Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine field. In order to achieve that goal courses are organized, meetings arranged, and the Association supports organizations. Among all the local events planned by ABU, the one that deserves and requires most of our attention is the Clinical Chemistry Congress, a highlight in our cultural environment, held every two years in Montevideo.
This Congress is a cultural tradition that begun in 1997, and because of its importance, it's still standing. It is considered one of the major scientific activities in the field of Biochemistry in our country: a meeting where our professionals and technicians can keep their knowledge up-to-date, find out about the latest technologies introduced in the country, buy the latest edited books, and... have fun while doing so, thanks to the social activities held at the end of the day. Every other September the Congress covers different topics, according to the needs and interests expressed by the community. Previous meetings were based on a single topic: two meetings ago it was the making of our own reference values, and the last one centered on accreditation in the clinical laboratory. However, this year the motto was 'Update and New Strategies': instead of picking a single subject, a series of state-of-the-art topics were chosen and presented to our scientific community. The advertisement begun months before, through posters, brochures, and the web page http://www.aqfu.org.uy/abu
The different activities of the Conference were symposiums, courses, and general conferences. Every morning 90 persons attended to one of the three simultaneous courses held in different rooms of the NH Columbia Hotel; every single course was imparted by excellent researches and speakers, both from our country and abroad. The different topics were:
- The various uses of Molecular Biology in the clinical laboratory, a relatively new technique in our environment. The course was taught by Dr. Patricia Esperón, Professor of Molecular Biology in our Chemistry School, and well-known researcher on Molecular Genetics issues such as genetics and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
- Spermograms, its importance, the studies it implies and their interpretation. Dr. José María Montes, President of the Uruguayan Association for Human Reproduction was the distinguished lecturer of this course.
- Biological Variation and Reference Values. It was imparted by our International Visiting Lecturer of IFCC, Dr. Xavier Fuentes-Arderiu, whose work is world-wide known, and needs no introduction from our part.
The different symposiums lasted 2 hours and were attended almost 230 people, who had to choose among two simultaneous activities. 14 different topics were chosen to be worked on the symposiums: some of them were presented by Uruguayan scientists, although 12 of all lectures were from differents countries, such as Spain, Paraguay and Argentina. The chosen topics for the symposiums were:
1.Immunity and Aterogenesis.
2.S.aureus community-acquiered infection nowadays.
3.Bone marrow transplant.
4.Update in self-immune diseases.
5.New approaches in monitoring of therapeutic drugs.
6.Genetic aspects of cardiovascular risks.
8.Update in Diabetes.
9.Advances in education and teaching of the Clinical Biochemist.
10.Health and Environment.
11.Update in Quality Management in the Clinical Laboratory.
The six different general conferences were at noon and in late afternoon, while no other activity was happening. Distinguished lecturers, great professionals in their work fields, were invited for the conferences, which were based on:
1.Uncertainty in measurement. Dr. Xavier Fuentes Arderiu (Spain)
2.Management of Clinical Analysis Laboratory. Prof. Dra. Montserrat Blanes (Paraguay)
3.Legal aspects of our trade. Dra. Clara Chames (Argentina)
4.Analytical guidelines in oral, faringeal and facial infections. Prof. Dra. Laura Pivel. (Uruguay)
5.Stem Cells Banks. Dr. Orlando Echegoyen (Argentina)
6.Mastering of Natural Forces, a challenge for science: the SIS (Selective inverted sump) system. Ing. Rafael Guarga. (Uruguay)
The Congress lasted three days, from September 16th, until September 18th. It was a satisfying experience, for both attendants and organizers. We're all looking forward to the next experience, on September 2007.