Advancing excellence in laboratory medicine for better healthcare worldwide

IFCC VLP 2016 in Harare (ZW)

The World of Laboratory Medicine
Focuses on Africa for 2017

By Prof. Howard Morris
IFCC VLP Lecturer

Official Delegates With UZ VCOfficial guests of the 14th National Annual Workshop organized by the Zimbabwe Association of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (ZACBLM) held in Harare, 16 and 17 June 2016.
From left to right: Dr Witmore Mujaji: Vice President ZACB; Ms Yasmin Ahmed; Dr Jackie Stone (Harare);
Professor Howard Morris: AACB Australia; Professor Levi Martin Nyagura: Vice-Chancellor, University of Zimbabwe;
Professor Hilda Matarira: President ZACB; Mr Matthew Chalmers: ACPharm, Australian Custom Pharmaceutical

The international world of laboratory medicine will focus on Africa during 2017 culminating in the WorldLab Congress in Durban, 22 to 25 October 2017. This was the message from Professor Howard Morris, former Vice-President of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC), the international peak body for laboratory medicine. Professor Morris was speaking at the 14th National Annual Workshop organized by the Zimbabwe Association of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (ZACBLM) held in Harare, 16 and 17 June 2016. The Workshop, led by Professor Hilda Matarira of the University of Zimbabwe and President of the ZACBLM, addressed the topic of the role of micronutrients for improving health of Zimbabweans. Representatives of clinical laboratories across the nation, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the President’s Office attended. The IFCC supported the Workshop with the attendance of international delegates Professor Adrian Marais, South Africa and Dr Lara Popoola, Nigeria as well as Professor Morris from Australia. A strong faculty from Zimbabwe presented their experiences to the Workshop on the health benefits to be derived from local foods.

Professor Morris described how 70% of decisions made by doctors when treating patients are informed by results from the clinical laboratory and laboratory medicine specialists. “A quality clinical laboratory service is the driver for a quality health care service” said Professor Morris. “Along with this central role is a high level of responsibility to ensure the work of the clinical laboratory is of the highest international quality” he continued. A key activity of the IFCC is working with national societies including the ZACBLM and regional bodies such as the African Federation of Clinical Chemistry (AFCC) organizing educational workshops for clinical laboratory leaders and their staff on the principles of quality in the laboratory medicine. He described how attaining the highest level of quality was not a task to be taken lightly but required teamwork, working smarter, ensuring user satisfaction and continuous improvement. The desire for a quality laboratory service is a journey; it continues to develop but never reaches an end. “It is the professional organisations such as the ZACBLM supported by the AFCC and IFCC that play a key role developing and educating their members on these principles of quality who are working in the local clinical laboratories to improve the health of their patients and their community.”

A highlight of the Workshop was the AFCC-Young Scientists Session supported by the IFCC Task Force for Young Scientists. A large body a students of Laboratory Medicine and Medicine together with young graduates working in clinical laboratories were in attendance for a series of presentations describing requirements for writing scientific manuscripts. Dr Lara Popoola, Chair of the AFCC-YS Task Force from Nigeria reported on the aims and activities of the IFFC Young Scientists Task Force. She captivated the audience with the opportunities provided for young scientists including the Professional Exchange Programme, the Mentoring Programme and the availability of scholarships for young scientists to present their research results at international congresses. Lara highlighted the marvellous opportunity next year for all of those present to attend the most important international congress in laboratory medicine with the hosting of WorldLab in Durban in October. Here was an opportunity for Zimbabwean young scientists to hear the world experts, to present their own work to this international audience and to meet clinical laboratory specialists from all over the world possibly establish lifelong collaborations to assist their career development and improve their clinical practice. Mr Itai Chitungo, convenor for Young Scientists of the ZACB, supported Lara’s statements and challenged his members to build a big contingent for the WorldLab Congress by making preparations for taking a coach to Durban.

The Workshop was a major success concluding by adopting various resolutions to take forward at the national government level as well as at the local level. A number of resolutions focussed on improving patient care and safety by harmonizing the reporting of results from the various laboratories, maintaining the national external quality assurance programme and to promote cooperation, collaboration and communication across the disciplines of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pharmacy, Mental Health and Nutrition.  Delegates expressed the importance of the meeting and the exchange of ideas for improving the performance of clinical laboratories across Zimbabwe. A major step to improve communication is an international collaboration involving the IFCC, the AFCC, the national association in Zimbabwe and the regional organization supporting laboratory medicine in South and Central America to establish radio programs. These are broadcast as podcasts and so are available across the African continent and the world. The programs will be focussed on African issues and the Zimbabwe Association of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine will play a leading role in their production.

These activities will provide the foundation for building a quality health program throughout Zimbabwe focussing on the cooperation, collaboration and communication between all professionals working for the delivery of healthcare.

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