— As scientists recommend to international partners for diagnostic equipment
By David A. Yates and Simeon S. Wiakanty
Africabio Enterprises Incorporated on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 began a two-day regional laboratory conference in Monrovia.
Africabio is a trade organization for professionals and companies in the life sciences industry around the world seeking to compliment relationships and expertise in health system strengthening, neglected diseases, agribusiness, diagnostic, and industrial biotechnology in Africa.
The ongoing event is being sponsored and co-hosted by the Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, World Health Organization and Fouta Corporation, among others.
The lab event, which is ongoing at the Monrovia City Hall, provides a platform where scientists, laboratory professionals and stakeholders as well as key industry players discuss and proffer practical and workable solutions to the challenges of healthcare within the sub-region. It is the fifth Annual Medical Laboratory Professionals’ week in the country, held under the theme; “Bio-risk Management in West Africa” truly captured the ideas of our thought-leaders who serve as Ambassadors from the region.
Events marking the ongoing celebration include panel discussions, concurrent workshops that examined different thematic areas and included exhibitions. Participants are expected to learn networking and solutions that would create basic building blocks among healthcare workers in the country and West Africa.
Ms. Candace B. Eastman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Africabio Enterprises Inc., declared conference open, saying that it demonstrates the dire need for continued learning, networking across borders and upgrading of skills.
She said the conference places importance on improving systems, processes, and communication between clinicians and their colleagues in the laboratory. “Equally significant is providing a venue for exhibit of technology best-suited for West Africa to showcase how critical the lab impacts research everyday, and the list continues.”
This conference, according to her, born out of necessity, is achievable because it begins with a group of dedicated planners, ambassadors, public health officials and private entities who give their time over a period of six months to develop the program and provide ideas of most current information to share among professionals impacting the environment.
“If professional meetings are good enough for the rest of the world; surely it can make a difference in all our work in West Africa. Government cannot do everything.
“I hope you find this time productive as you build networks, share your work and experiences and if it leads to making some adjustments in our lab culture and attitudes, together we will make the impact felt as we return to our little corners in West Africa,” she said.
In a remark, Edward Abayomi, a Nigerian Laboratory Quality Assurance Manager, said lack of capacity building is what is suffering Africa’s health sector. To correctly identify micro-bio causes of an outbreak, he said, is a serious challenge because of the risk associated with biological materials and infectious dangers.
He said based on these associated risks, there should be extra capacity development strategies to minimize the likelihood of occurrence of bio risks.
“So I recommend to international partners that, in terms of helping Africans, they should consider the issue of diagnostic equipment that are affordable and available, not those in thousands of dollars.
“Globally, there are standard guidelines and frameworks for taking care of bio risk issues, but most of these guidelines were developed in places of higher containment laboratories and places with high income and so information sharing is difficult,” he added.
Earlier, Madame Catherine Cooper, Assistant Health Minister for Curative Services, lauded the efforts made by partners in building the competencies of laboratory staff, who will boost the laboratory’s capacities.
Minister Cooper also expressed her gratitude to Africabio and WHO for their continued partnerships and supports to strengthening laboratory services in the country. She lauded the laboratory technicians, who she described as crucial partners to the improvement of quality healthcare.
According to her, medical laboratory professionals play important roles in saving life alongside doctors and nurses.
The conference brought together local and international scientists including Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, a biomedical scientist and expert in Infectious Diseases, based in the USA; Mr. Desmond Williams (USA); Mrs. Ellen Munemo (Liberia); Kassaye Tekie Desta (Ethiopia), among others.
It is expected to end today, Wednesday, April 24, 2019 in Monrovia.