About Critical Values

Critical Values is the go-to resource for the entire laboratory team, providing insight and information on the latest research, information, and issues within pathology and laboratory medicine. The print and online magazine invites submissions on topics including, but not limited to, advocacy, education, technology, global health, workforce, workplace best practices, and leadership.

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ASCP Staff Advisers

E. Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM
Chief Executive Officer 

Critical Values Staff

Molly Strzelecki  Editor 

Susan Montgomery  Contributing Editor

Martin Tyminski  Creative Director  

Jennifer Brinson  Art Direction and Design  

Our Recent Articles

ASCP Reaffirms its Support for Laboratory Medicine in Africa During ASLM Conference

Mar 26, 2024, 00:45 AM by Susan Montgomery

For the first time in five years, ASCP’s Global Health staff attended the in-person African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) Biennial Conference, held in December 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

“This was the first in-person conference that ASLM has hosted since the 2018 conference,” says Ken Landgraf, MSc, Executive Director of ASCP’s Center for Global Health. “It was a great opportunity to discuss collaborations and reconnect with colleagues in person after such a long time.”

Representatives from 14 laboratory professional associations and regulatory councils across Africa also attended the conference and discussed ways to strengthen the laboratory medicine field in Africa. A key issue currently confronting many nations across Africa is the dire shortage of medical laboratory professionals. The shortage is affecting African nations in much the same way it is affecting laboratories in the U.S., according to Mr. Landgraf. Laboratory professionals across the region are suffering from post-Covid burnout, and the pipeline of medical laboratory science graduates is inadequate to keep up with demand.

“Africa needs an estimated 800,000 additional medical laboratory professionals to fill the gap,” he adds.

As they discussed ways for laboratories to cope with the lack of adequate staff levels, conference participants considered how to do more with less staff by using technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to fill in areas where staffing is short.

Opportunities to expand ASCP support

In addition, the conversation about strengthening training programs for laboratory sciences provided ASCP staff an opportunity to tout the Society’s lengthy expertise in this area. Over the past two decades, ASCP has worked with training colleges and universities in 14 countries in Africa to modernize their medical laboratory science educational curricula. For more than 20 years, ASCP’s Center for Global Health has worked closely with leaders of government agencies and non-governmental international organizations around the world, providing laboratory training to help standardize laboratory medicine and improve the quality of patient care.

“I think there is a continuing need for ASCP to provide support to laboratory educational training programs in African nations, while also working increase the number of graduates of medical laboratory science programs in order to address the shortage of trained professionals,” Mr. Landgraf says.  

Awareness of the importance of certification for laboratory professionals has been steadily increasing in recent years, thanks to active ASCP regional advisory boards in several African nations and enthusiastic ASCP International ambassadors such as George Okubazgi Yeabyo (ASCPi), who is certified as a histotechnologist and is also a general manager of Abiti Consultancy Services (ACS). He participates different events on behalf of ASCP at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and encourages medical laboratory students at the university to seek ASCP International certification.

“There is no question that the quality of education and professional practice of medical laboratory science in the U.S. is higher than Africa,” says Mr. Yeabyo, an ASCP member. “The ASCP Board of Certification examination is difficult. Our task is to prepare our students for the examination.”

He adds, “Our collaborative efforts with ASCP in helping educate medical laboratory science students will help to elevate and sustain patient care through their practice. It will help our students to learn and understand the quality of practice. As an Ambassador of ASCP in Africa, it is my role to emphasize the value of the ASCP Board of Certification and the U.S. standard for professional practice.”  

There are growing numbers of African laboratory professionals seeking ASCP International certification which signifies that professionals have received a high level of training. Of late, the ASCP International certification program has experienced an increasing number of applicants from Ethiopia and other African nations.

As more laboratory professionals in African countries seek ASCP International certification, they are taking pride in their achievements and helping promote visibility of the profession. As trailblazers in the field, they are helping to increase awareness of the vital role that medical laboratory professionals play, which also aids in recruitment, according to Mr. Landgraf.

Formation of Regional Laboratory Professional Association

The overall push to strengthen the laboratory profession got a significant boost during the ASLM conference when ASLM leaders announced the formation of the Regional Laboratory Professional Association. Its role is to bring more cohesiveness to the various African laboratory medical societies, encourage certification, and promote governmental and regulatory structures for practicing medical laboratory professionals.

“The Regional Laboratory Professional Association will have a secretariat that will have a larger voice than any of the individual societies,” Mr. Landgraf says, adding, “ASCP is supporting this initiative, which is aligned with our patient-centric mission.”

The new association will advocate for the recognition and advancement of the laboratory profession on both global and regional platforms, and engage with organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union Commission, regional economic blocs, and national governments across Africa. One of its primary responsibilities is to establish and promote governance and regulatory structures for practicing laboratory medicine professionally and ethically. It also aims to define and promote career development paths sensitive to local contexts and the dynamic field of laboratory medicine.

Mr. Landgraf says that ASCP looks forward to “strengthening our ties in support of ASLM’s mission and to continuing our global efforts to support the medical laboratory by offering cutting-edge education and creating vibrant communities of practice and serving as a voice for laboratory scientists.”