Prof. Anthony Emeribe, Registrar/CEO of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, recently spoke with ASLM about his role as the ASLM2016 conference co-chair and the importance of laboratories in Africa.

“Diagnoses contribute 60 to 85% of clinical decisions; without the laboratories, modern healthcare becomes mere guess work. A strong national health system cannot exist with a weak laboratory system.” – Prof. Emeribe

Why are laboratories important to strong national health systems?

Laboratories play a vital and critical role to national health systems as diagnostic tests carried out in these laboratories are used in management and surveillance of diseases. Diagnoses contribute 60 to 85% of clinical decisions; without the laboratories, modern healthcare becomes mere guess work. A strong national health system cannot exist with a weak laboratory system.

What are the major challenges for healthcare capacity building in Africa?

The major challenges include weak training institutions lacking the requisite capacity to support the practical components of training the laboratory workforce – also poor professional profiles and remuneration to retain a workforce. Other challenges include multiple cadres of laboratory human resources, non-professionalism in some countries, weak laboratory networks to support disease surveillance and lack of political will to enact and implement laboratory specific legislation for effective regulation.

What role does ASLM and the ASLM2016 conference have in addressing these challenges?

The ASLM2020 strategic goals have articulated these challenges and the ASLM is strategic in addressing these challenges. Its pan-African nature can be explored as a strong advocacy tool for improved health laboratory systems, training harmonisation for human resource migration, laboratory accreditation and regional networks.

What are your expectations for the ASLM2016 conference, and what will stakeholders gain from attending?

Poor health indices in Africa have been a major concern to the global community and if unchecked may continue to provide an enabling environment for epidemics. The change in the profile of non-communicable diseases in Africa has necessitated that some of these health challenges, hitherto not prevalent in developing countries, are now a source of growing concern. With the world becoming a global village, emerging and re-emerging diseases are having a field day traversing countries and continents. It is expected that ASLM2016 will provide the opportunity to discuss some of these concerns and proffer African solutions to these challenges. New scientific discoveries, new products and opportunities for networking are some of the anticipated hallmarks of the conference.

ASLM206 also provides a good platform to address any challenges in the clinic-laboratory interface that is crucial to improved and prompt service delivery.

Click here to access the complete biography of Prof. Emeribe.