This past December, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) lost a dear friend and member, Cynthia Johns, MSA, M(ASCP), MLS(ASCP)CMSHCM. Cindy embodied what it means to be a passionate laboratory professional, always giving back to both patients and our organization. She was a committed champion of the profession, and throughout her years as a highly active member of ASCP, she served in many different roles, from workshop presenter to member of the Board of Directors. She supported the international growth of ASCP’s Board of Certification through leading roles on the Globalization Taskforce, International Certification Committee, and International Ambassador program, among others. Cindy volunteered her time both locally and globally, notably serving as a President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Consultant in 2006, and traveling to Lesotho to teach hematology courses to laboratory science students. Perthena Latchaw, MS, M(ASCP), worked with Cindy in Lesotho, and remembers the cold winter days teaching in small, crowded classrooms with little heat and “grazing cows peeking through the classroom windows.” Despite the challenges, Cindy taught without missing a beat, and with an enduring, energetic spirit, smiling the whole time, Ms. Latchaw recalls.
Facing and embracing challenges such as those Cindy encountered while educating laboratory professionals in resource-limited countries, are all part of the bigger challenge of providing better health assets and services to those in need. Myriad factors influence global health today, and as a Society we are committed to being a positive influence. Since 2004, ASCP has participated in PEPFAR, and as a leading organization that supports laboratory quality improvement, we have helped move the needle on health systems in developing countries, building sustainable, deliverable systems.
Global health today versus how it presented in 2004 has changed beyond recognition. In this issue of Critical Values, we look at what’s on the horizon of global health.
New and evolving technology plays a big part in the advancement of the laboratory, and nowhere is that seen or felt as much as in resource-limited countries. Dr. Timothy Amukele and colleagues looked at a novel way to improve laboratory services in remote areas: drones. In a Q&A with Dr. Amukele, he discusses the results and implications of using drones to transport chemistry and hematology samples over long distances. The results of their test were impressive, and he emphasizes that validation studies such as this are much needed because, “eventually drones are going to be everywhere, we can’t just adopt this technology assuming it’s okay for everything.”
In her article, “Four Technologies That Can Improve Global Health,” senior editor Molly Strzelecki looks at new and emerging technologies that are changing the way we look at and practice global health. In today’s world, where smartphones are commonplace and biopsies can be performed non-invasively, healthcare and laboratory services can benefit from these potentially life-changing technologies.
Global health often comes under significant strain when natural disasters strike, wiping out the systems necessary to provide good health care. But natural disasters are not relegated to places halfway around the world. As last season’s devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico showed, events such as these can have a big impact on patient care, and it is clear that no matter where the event happens, there is no such thing as too much preparedness. In her article, “Is Your Laboratory Ready for Hurricane Season?” author Kelly Swails talks to laboratory administrators about how to best prepare a laboratory for potential natural disasters. Instrument failures, staffing issues, and power failures are just a few of the concerns laboratory professionals might encounter. But most important to note is that, as Ms. Swails writes, “hurricane and disaster preparedness starts years before an event and never truly stops.”
As we continue to advance our stake in global health, we do so knowing that global health is local health, and what one person benefits from, so do we all. While miles and oceans may separate us, providing high-quality healthcare and laboratory services unites us, always making us StrongerTogether.
Thank you for your continued support of ASCP. Please send me your comments and suggestions at Blair.Holladay@ascp.org.
My very best to each of you.