It is here once again, the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists annual congress (GAMLS Congress) is the buzz of town. The Medical Laboratory Science profession has not been very vociferous in this country over the years but the congress has remained hard to miss each year. This annual event seems to be the most highlighted on the calendar of the association and it has therefore left questions on the lips of many on-lookers, what is this congress about?
The GAMLS congress: what does it represent?
I would love to put it that the congress is about bringing the professionals of the association under same roof and time in order to plan the way forward for its membership. However, don’t take my word for it, let’s read what the association have to say about the congress;
“The National Congress offers participants the greatest opportunity for networking, learning and exchange of critical information on the law, new medical laboratory diagnostic and technological developments, and quality management systems for capacity building to play relevant roles in the global health security agenda (GHSA).” -GAMLS
How often does the congress come on and where is the venue?
The congress takes place once each year usually around the months of October and November. The venue for the program is not fixed as the association have it as a goal to maintain its National representation. The regional capitals take turn to host the event each year. In 2015 the program was hosted in Tamale then Cape coast in 2016 and this year it is happening in the heart of Eastern Region Koforidua.
What happens at the GAMLS congress?
The shortest most suitable word to summarise the undertakings at the annual event is learning. Science is the fastest evolving human endeavour and the progress of almost every field depends on this. This even becomes more complex in the science of health, the science of diseases, and the science of the human body because in this field almost nothing is certain. Today you might be using Drabkin’s method to estimate haemoglobin and science will prove tomorrow that it unreliable.
The Medical Laboratory Science profession therefore has to commit to a continuous process of learning and this annual event serves as a climax. And as mentioned earlier in the opening statement the association uses the event to review the past year and plan ahead the next. Executives are also elected every 2 years during congress. The congress also serves as a platform for exhibition of relevant equipment and consumables.
Am I qualified to attend and why should I?
The congress is often open to practitioners, academicians, researchers, manufacturers and retailers of Laboratory equipment and supplies, students of Medical Laboratory Science/Technology, and persons involved in Health Care.
The congress is the biggest event on the calendar of scientists of the Ghanaian healthcare setting.
If there is one place to know it all about the Medical Laboratory Science profession in Ghana, it is here.
- Either you are a student interested in building the right connections for your professional development or an entrepreneur looking for ways to establish your business in the diagnostic centre, the congress is the right place.
- Are you interested in getting information related to the latest progress and way forward for the association? You don’t want to hear it from anywhere but the congress.
I cannot try to exhaust the reasons why you can’t miss this event for anything. If you have not had a taste of the program this year is your chance. In the heart of the Eastern region, go and follow the story from its source.
The 2017 congress; what trills!
The theme for this year’s event which comes off from the first of November to the 4th is;
“Strengthening health laboratory services and systems: key to achieving the health-related sustainable development”.
In 2015 Ghana was commended for making tremendous progress in certain Millennium Development Goals which included halting extreme poverty and providing portable water for people without access to safe drinking water. However, we were questioned to work more in order to achieve the other MDGs especially the health related.
Again, Ghana made tremendous progress with regards to reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS but could not meet the target. Ghana could not achieve Maternal and child under 5 mortality which shows that even though we made progress, we could not achieve even a single health related Millennium Development Goal which was adopted between the periods of 2000 to 2015.
Why did Ghana fail at this health related MDGs?
It is not surprising that Ghana was able to do better at reducing child under 5 mortality compared with the other health related MDGs because of the successful implementation of the neonate vaccination for the childhood killer diseases. It is however clear that malaria contributed greatly to our inability to achieve the set goal completely. This shows that the progress of the health sector largely depends on implementing the right healthcare policies.
It is however very disappointing that 4 of the top 5 leading cause of maternal deaths in this country is due to haemorrhage, hypertension in pregnancy, infections and ectopic pregnancy complications even in this new era of medical advancement. With a complete perspective of how central the medical laboratory is to curbing this menace and considering its current state it is heart breaking. Ghana as a developing country may have such problems but on the expert viewpoint this is not an excuse. The richest country is not the healthiest one. Our failure at this MDGs is born largely on poor health policies and implementation.
What is the Way forward?
Ghana have joined the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) again which is expected to run till 2030. What can we do differently to achieve the health related goals this time? What role can the medical laboratory play?
The medical laboratory sector of this country remains one of the best in Africa but our best so far is certainly not enough. The government needs to realise the potential of this sector and take the right steps to strengthen it. It requires commitment, it requires role playing but most importantly it requires strong working policies.
The medical laboratory cannot be an autonomous profession until it is autonomous. The constitution has spelled out clearly the autonomy of the sector but the policies do not. Clearly the unseen hero of the healthcare systems deserves to be fully utilised to help this country improve in healthcare delivery significantly.
The medical laboratory industry is a vital segment of health care system which must be regulated heavily because; any mistake in result generation can be severe, even fatal. The poor qualities of results generated create health hazard. So, the maintenance of the quality with continuous improvement is very important for medical laboratories. From this concept Total Quality Management (TQM) must be established. The aim of TQM is prevention of defects rather than detection of defects. So TQM is very important for laboratories to produce better results and ensure the maximum safety of healthcare system. The medical laboratory cannot ensure Total Quality Management until it controls all the vital aspects of its management. This can only happen with the right policy implementations.
The good news is that GAMLS is not asking the government to draft the policies; these policies were drafted and signed by the ministry of health since 2013 but has not been implemented because of claims from other professional bodies. Where then lies the autonomy of the sector if other professions still want to head it?
It is time for Ghana to wake up and put power into policies rather than relying on the emotions of individuals in the healthcare team. The hospital cannot function to it best if the interest of one team member always comes first to the others.
But as I said, do not take my word for it, make it to the GAMLS Congress. These are the kind of progress centred topics that are going to be discussed thoroughly by experts of the field. See you there!!