Since its inception in 2011, AACC’s Global Lab Quality Initiative(GLQI) has sought to improve quality, exchange ideas, and promote best practices in underserved areas of the world, while fostering relationships among the global laboratory scientist community. Made possible with funding from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, GLQI has hosted 20 workshops in the Latin America, Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific regions with plans to host more in 2019.

“Through GLQI, AACC members contribute to better laboratory practices and better healthcare worldwide,” said Elizabeth Frank, PhD, DABCC, chair of AACC’s Education Core Committee, which has oversight of GLQI as part of AACC’s governance structure. The collaborative approach adopted by members of GLQI working groups and presenters is a key contributor to its success, she added.

“In each country, the group partners with a local host organization to determine topics of primary interest and of need for local laboratorians. This approach has contributed to highly effective workshops and created a desire to extend the program to other countries,” Frank summarized.

To Yan Victoria Zhang, PhD, MBA, DABCC, FADLM, these local connections are key ingredients of GLQI’s success. “It is very important for me to cultivate a trusted relationship with the local laboratory medicine society, which will be essential to develop the most effective and targeted workshops and programs for them,” according to Zhang, chair of GLQI’s Asia-Pacific Working Group.

Each program for each country is based on suggestions and feedback from these local connections. “The programs are customized to their local community,” Zhang told CLN Stat.

GLQI launched in 2011 when the Latin American Working Group (LAWG) delivered its first workshop in Quito, Ecuador, in collaboration with the Ecuadorian Society for Clinical Biochemistry.

The Asia-Pacific Working Group and LAWG are composed of physicians and scientists who develop and deliver educational content in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, respectively. To date, AACC has partnered with national societies to present five quality-control and method verification workshops in Asia and 15 in Latin America.

GLQI has impacted laboratory practice in the Latin American region in several ways, said LAWG Chair Rosa Sierra-Amor, PhD. “The experience of the LAWG members in applying CLSI guidelines to verify method performance, lot to lot variation, references ranges, and other important factors has been very useful to professionals,” Sierra-Amor told CLN Stat. “Nevertheless, the region is quite large, and work still needs to be done to achieve similar results along the way.”

GLQI’s Asia-Pacific Working Group hosted its first workshop in 2016 Chongqing, China, in collaboration with the Chinese Society of Laboratory Medicine (CSLM) and Chinese Association for Clinical Laboratory Management. Another took place during CLSM’s annual conference in China in 2017, attracting more than 300 participants. In 2018, the working group held lab quality workshops in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines, where the focus was on “method selections, method validations, how to choose, establish and monitor quality-control programs, proficiency testing, reference intervals, and lab quality management system,” Zhang said. “The workshops were very well-received with an overwhelming positive response from these countries.” More than 900 attendees benefited from the workshops, “representing the largest number of attendants we have had since the inception of the GLQI,” she added.

The Asia-Pacific Working Group collaborates closely with the Asian-Pacific Federation for Clinical Biochemistry, which helps identify countries most in need of help, and with local societies in host countries to develop program material, Zhang said. Early engagement with the local laboratory medicine societies and representatives is essential to develop targeted programs for audiences in each country.

Through GLQI, “people not only learn about the content from the workshop, they also learn about AACC international policies, online resources to help them further their education, and the express membership program that keeps them engaged with the AACC and the international community in clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine as a whole,” Zhang said.

GLQI has also ventured into the realm of newborn screening, holding a workshop in Goa, India, in the fall of 2018 that followed a successful half-day symposium in Cali, Colombia. 2019 sees tentative plans to hold workshops in Colombia, India, and a Spanish language mini-workshop in conjunction with the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting in Anaheim, California. GLQI is also exploring program opportunities in other areas, in partnership with local clinical laboratory societies.