As the date of the 2018 edition of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine Conference (ASLM) draws near, the body has released the list of speakers who will address the attending delegates.
The list includes: Senior Director of the Diagnostic Services at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Dr. Trevor Peter; Director of African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong; Founder and Director of the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), Dr. Waafa El Sadr, and South Africa’s National Health Laboratory Service official, Dr. Wendy Stevens.
Other speakers who will be facilitating on-going dialogues at ASLM 2018 include: Prof. Alimuddin Zumla, Dr. Caroline Jehu-Appiah, Dr. Ogobara Doumbo, Dr. Rebecca Martin, Dr. Chewe Luo and Prof. Oyewale Tomori. Also included in the speaker line-up are Dr. Jay Varma, Dr. Philip Onyebujoh, Dr. Merawi Aragaw, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Dr. Abdourahmane Sow, Dr. Djoudalbaye Benjamin and Prof. Iruka Okeke.
The conference will be chaired by co-founder and the Executive Director of the International Research Centre of Excellence at the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Prof. Alash’le Abimiku. She is a Professor at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.
The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Preventing and Controlling the Next Pandemic: The Role of the Laboratory’. From December 10 to 13, 2018, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria, will play host to hundreds of delegates from across Africa. This is the first time the conference will be held outside Cape Town, South Africa, where the first three editions were staged.
The 2018 ASLM conference will feature plenary sessions on pandemic threats, laboratory response and partnership synergy. The event will also feature presentations, poster sessions, special sessions and symposia. The Roundtable discussions will focus on topics such as leveraging and sustaining networks for disease response in Africa; data intelligence, biological specimen repository for outbreak response, role of National public health institutes in pandemic response and Africa regional laboratory networks.
Commenting on the speaker line-up, Prof. Abimiku said: “This year’s set of speakers were specially chosen because of how passionate they are about changing the narrative around public health laboratories. They are experts and professionals who have left indelible footprints in their various health fields. Participants who attend the event will be exposed to modern collaborative techniques in the field of laboratory science.”
This year’s edition of the biennial conference, which is the fourth, is expected to help achieve the ASLM’s 2020 goals of strengthening laboratory workforce by training and certifying laboratory professionals and clinicians through standardised frameworks and transforming laboratory testing quality by enrolling laboratories in quality improvement programmes to achieve accreditation by international standards.
Other objectives which the body aims to have achieved by 2020 include: developing strong, harmonised regulatory systems for diagnostic products as defined by the Global Harmonization Taskforce and building a network of national public health reference laboratories to improve early disease detection and collaborative research. The ASLM aims to achieve these goals by working collaboratively with governments, local and international organisations, implementing partners and the private sector.
According to Ms. Bethanie Rammer, Communications Manager, ASLM, the conference provides an avenue for strong collaborations with leading researchers; which in turn paves the way for the development of new strategies and medical technologies. Speaking on the rationale for hosting the ASLM conference in Nigeria, she said: “By hosting conferences such as ASLM 2018 in Abuja – Nigeria, ASLM seeks to change the way that medical research is conducted. This will be a platform for various contributions, participation, co-ordination, training and development of skills for future collaborations. The goal is to ensure healthy African communities now and for the long-term.”
Areas of interest for the 2018 edition of the ASLM include: providing information on the laboratory medicine landscape and needs in Africa; increasing awareness of opportunities to invest in laboratory medicine amongst private, public and philanthropic donors. The ASLM conference also seeks to facilitate networking among participants and encourage the creation of public-private partnerships to ensure further development of both African laboratories and African diagnostics companies.
ASLM is an independent, pan-African professional body that coordinates, galvanises and mobilises relevant stakeholders towards improving access to world-class laboratory services. The headquarters of the body is Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and it serves all African countries. It is endorsed by the African Union.