Accra to host Scientists Conference on combating infectious diseases

Scientists, clinicians and policy makers will on April 21 and 22, 2021, converge in Accra for the CelebrateLAB West Africa 2021 Conference to deliberate on strengthening West Africa’s diagnostics and research environment toward combating infectious disease.

They would assess the long-term impact of the treatment of COVID-19 patients in view of the fight against drug resistance in West Africa and other pertinent issues.

An official statement issued to the Ghana News Agency, on Tuesday, said “Combating Emerging and Re-Emerging Infections through Standardization of Laboratory Practice across West Africa,” is the theme of the conference.

It would also deliberate how to balance the COVID-19 pandemic response with protecting public health gains in the laboratory diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Accra Conference is being organised in partnership with the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists and co-hosted by the Ghana Health Service and Akai House Laboratories, and other partners.

The statement, signed by Ms Efam Dovi of CelebrateLAB, said with no known treatment for COVID-19, antibiotics were used globally in patients’ management, even where there was no confirmed co-infection requiring antibiotics, leading to increasing rate of antibiotics prescription in many healthcare settings.

The seventh annual meeting, which would be attended by laboratory scientists, researchers, clinicians, regulators, policy makers and other players in the health care team, would place emphasis on how stronger health laboratory systems in the sub region would help prevent emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Researchers, the statement said, had been sounding the alarm on the likely long-term impact of widespread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics since the pandemic.

Many experts, it said, were concerned that Africa, already burdened with Antimicrobial Resistance or AMR, would be most impacted.

The scientists and researchers, therefore, would share experiences and best practices on the benefits of “Creating Standards in laboratory practice across the West Africa region,” and examine the issue of “Biological and Hazardous Waste Management in the Era of COVID-19.”

It quoted Dr. Kassaye Tekie Desta, a Diagnostic Network Advisor, Infectious Disease Detection and Surveillance (IDDS) in Liberia, as saying: “Building a laboratory capacity for microbiology culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing for patient management is crucial in fighting AMR in developing countries”.

“Diagnostic stewardship is the cornerstone of antimicrobial stewardship programmes.”

Dr. Desta is expected to present at the conference’s session on: “Global Health Security Agenda and Clinical Best Practices in West Africa.”

The statement said health laboratories played vital roles in disease surveillance and mitigation of outbreaks and improving standards in laboratory diagnosis in the sub-region.

“There are numerous gaps within the medical laboratory value chain in the sub-region, quoted Dr. Anthony Laud Basing, a Consultant Medical Laboratory Scientist and Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

“The gaps offer opportunities for scientists and governments to start thinking about creating policies and legislations around the laboratory value chain to create value for service users.”

Dr Basing, also the CEO of Incas Diagnostics, developers of simple test kits for diagnosis of infectious diseases, added: “African governments must invest in research and local production of diagnostics devices to ensure that the supply chain challenges experienced at beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t recur in future pandemic.”

The statement said with negligible local manufacturing, Africa’s health sector was affected at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when the world-wide medical supply chain was disrupted, adding that it was, therefore, a wakeup call for the region to invest in local manufacturing of devices and other supplies instead of over reliance on donor support.

CelebrateLAB is an annual meeting of Medical Laboratory Professionals, Researchers, Clinicians, Policy Makers and Regulators, highlighting diagnostics and research across the West Africa region.

The conference takes place during the International Lab Week that celebrate the role of Medical Laboratory Professionals in health outcomes.

Source: GNA

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