Just like in any profession, laboratory medicine faces challenges that are universal to any almost any lab, anywhere. Those familiar with laboratory medicine will recognize these challenges: inadequate resources in labs and in medical technology schools; communication difficulties between lab staff, clinicians and others; patient education; and personnel shortages.
Those who practice laboratory medicine in the developing world know these challenges and more. Poor or non-existent electricity supplies mean that automated machines are not an option, temperature regulation of samples is unreliable, and working conditions are excessively hot. Lack of quality roads and transportation options make specimen or patient transport difficult and supplies hard to obtain. Few educational opportunities mean that lab workers do not receive adequate training or opportunities to practice hands-on skills before working in a lab. Current laboratory employees have few resources with which to improve and refine their skills and learn about the latest research and technology.
The Center for Global Health at ASCP has been working to improve medical laboratories in the developing world since 2004. By providing continuing education training to professionals, assisting schools with the revision of their curriculum, and purchasing needed laboratory supplies the Center for Global Health has touched thousands of individuals and labs around the world. You can read more about their work and find additional stories here.
Every month on this blog, I’ll explore the world of laboratory medicine in the developing world. I’ll also discuss topics such as equipment maintenance (how do different climates affect equipment functionality?), development aid (how do non-profits and other forms of aid impact changes in the lab?), and communication with the clinician (how does this work in a non-digital world?), among others. I hope to provide a few interviews of those working on the ground in the developing world and am open to your questions to guide our blog ‘conversation’.