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APHL Global Health team joins partners at ASLM2023 Conference

ASLM opening ceremony performance.

The 2023 African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) Conference (ASLM2023) was held from December 12-15 in Cape Town, South Africa. Leaders and researchers in laboratory practice from across the world gathered to address this year’s theme, “Shaping laboratory systems and diagnostics services for the 21st century: embracing the change.” APHL was well-represented at the conference with staff members moderating plenaries, presenting posters and leading pre-conference workshops.

“The conference provided an important opportunity for APHL to showcase key initiatives that we are supporting as well as for us to learn about the work our colleagues are implementing around the continent. I am proud of how ASLM is contributing to strengthening laboratory systems across Africa,” says Lucy Maryogo-Robinson, director of global health, APHL, and ASLM board member.

Before the conference officially began, APHL staff members Rufus Nyaga, Kasimona Sichela, Matthew McCarroll, Noah Hull and Reshma Kakkar were already leading an afternoon workshop on “Data Modernization 101: What, How and Why Does It Matter in the 21st Century?” Shannon Emery was similarly engaged leading a Global Laboratory Leadership Programme (GLLP) workshop called, “Building Strong Leaders for Health Security,” along with representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other GLLP founding members.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Ambassador John Nkengasong, emphasized the importance of laboratory science in mitigating and managing outbreaks of the 21st century. Nkengasong noted that outbreaks are occurring more frequently, citing with some irony that he last spoke to this group at ASLM 2018 and was marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic. Nkengasong addressed the importance of genomics and precision medicine for our future, while also mentioning current challenges and opportunities around antimicrobial resistance and artificial intelligence.

Over the three-day conference, APHL’s presence could be found throughout the poster halls, with poster presentations including:

  • Establishment of Molecular Testing Capacity in Three Clinical Laboratories – An APHL Global Health Program Experience in Kenya by Jully Okonji,
  • Implementation of SARS-CoV-2 EQA Program in Ghana by Kwame Asante,
  • Just-In-Time Training: Bioinformatics and Genomic Epidemiology in the Global COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Future Endeavors by Noah Hull,
  • Multi-national, Inter-agency Collaboration to Improve Future Pandemic Preparedness: Developing a Comprehensive Genomics Costing Tool by Angela Poates,
  • Introduction of Barcode Labels in the PEPFAR Regions of Ghana by Kwama Asante,
  • Leveraging Laboratory Information System (LIS) for Efficient Data Management in a Pilot Wastewater-Based Surveillance Study for SARS-CoV-2 in Kenya: Promoting Sustainability and Ownership through Existing Program Integration by Rufus Nyaga, and 
  • Solar System Implementation for Clean and Sustainable Energy Utilization for Improved Laboratory Services and Health Information Systems in Zambia, by Clement Phiri and Christine Mfula. 

Additionally, Maryogo-Robinson spoke on two panels: one about building the laboratory workforce and another about end-to-end integrated testing.

This was the sixth biennial conference of the ASLM. Launched in 2012, the ASLM conference brings together experts from Africa and beyond to discuss challenges and opportunities in laboratory medicine. The ASLM is an independent, international, not-for-profit organization that coordinates, galvanizes and mobilizes relevant stakeholders at the local, national and international level to improve access to world-class diagnostic services and ensure healthy African communities now and for the long-term.

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