AI crucial for advancing laboratory medicine in Africa – U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

Accurate use of AI, a game-changer for actualising gains of laboratory medicine in Africa  
ASML confrence 2023

Cape Town, – Ambassador Dr John N Nkengasong, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy, emphasized the pivotal role of (AI) technology in revolutionizing laboratory medicine for continental self-reliance in healthcare delivery.

He noted that local developers should lead the adoption of AI, connected to entrepreneurs and investments focusing on infrastructure for a swift AI revolution in the laboratory medicine sector.

Dr. Nkengasong, former Director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), made these remarks at the Sixth Biennial Conference of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM2023) in Cape Town.

The conference, themed “Shaping laboratory systems and diagnostics services for the 21st Century: Embracing the Change,” focuses on the significance of laboratory medicine in addressing 21st-century challenges such as infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, and health system strengthening.

The ASLM 2023 conference gathers experts from laboratories, public health, and clinical fields to discuss technical advancements, policy developments, and shared experiences in laboratory medicine in Africa.

Dr Nkengasong highlighted the need for diplomatic collaboration and effective communication across all parties to transform laboratory medicine in Africa, calling for cooperation between the continent and partners like PEPFAR.

Mr Nqobile Ndlovu, CEO of ASLM, raised concerns about global diagnostic accessibility, citing that 47% of the global population lacked access to diagnostics in 2021.

He outlined ASLM's strategy plan, focusing on strengthening the laboratory workforce, ensuring access to quality diagnostics, improving laboratory systems' efficiency, and empowering African communities.

The challenges faced by ASLM include gaps in access, resource constraints, fragmented data management, infrastructure issues, and regulatory compliance challenges.

However, Mr Ndlovu expressed optimism, especially with the WHO passing the Strengthening Diagnostics Capacity bill globally.

Dr. Jean Kaseya, Director-General of the Africa CDC, acknowledged the critical role of laboratory medicine in African healthcare and expressed gratitude for ASLM's contributions.

The conference, inaugurated in 2012, serves as a platform for experts to discuss recent advancements and policy developments in African laboratory medicine.

Dr Kamy Chetty, Co-Chair and CEO of the National Health Laboratory Service South Africa, highlighted ASLM's transformative impact on African laboratory medicine since its establishment in 2012.

Professor Abderrahmane Maaroufi, Co-Chair and Director of the Institut Pasteur, , stressed the importance of collaboration among stakeholders to address Africa's persistent health challenges in laboratory medicine.

Roche Africa is the strategic sponsor of the 2023 Conference, with SD Bio Sensor and Hologic as partners alongside Africa CDC and the Commission.

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