Address President Marie Culliton to the Alternate GAD 2023

October 7, 2023
Marie Culliton photo 

Dear Colleagues

This time last year I told you that I was both honoured and humbled by your trust in me by electing me as your 32nd President. As I accepted this role of leading the team I was, and still am excited as to what we can, and must, achieve over the next 2 years.

The Board that was formed then, apart from the Management Committee, was entirely new. Many of them were not present in Korea and this week is the first time that we have all met in person. Indeed, this is the first full ‘in person’ meeting of Chief Delegates since Brisbane 2019. I am delighted that it is taking place in my home country of Ireland.

Forming a new Board takes time and in a virtual environment takes even longer. It is a testament to this Board that we managed to arrange and attend meetings with the range of time differences in force. To Alan Wainwright, Gabriella Lillsunde Larsson, Hassan Aziz, Godswill Okara, Maria Klement, Ki Jong Rhee and David Wells I say thank you for your work and support. To Janie Hames, our Executive Administrator I also say thank you for keeping us all on the straight and narrow, supporting all our needs and never losing patience.

Covid-19 brought our profession into focus, locally, nationally and globally. I am immensely proud of this profession and the way each Biomedical Laboratory Scientist has unstintingly done their best, and then more, to develop and deliver high quality testing for Covid 19 using the full range of methodologies. What epitomises this profession is how we have responded, freely sharing our knowledge and expertise with others to ensure best patient outcomes.

It is this spirit that saw us yesterday agree to support the WHO resolution on Strengthening Diagnostic Capacity and to assist in its implementation in Africa, Asia and Latin America, regions in which we do not have a strong membership. It is the right thing to do.

I was enthused and reenergised by the engagement of delegates yesterday in the items we had for discussion. The Board exists to carry out the wishes of the members. We may propose actions to you but the decision to make them policy or turn them into action is yours. That is why this annual meeting of delegates is so important. I would wish that more members were in a position to send delegates to our meeting, to contribute to discussion, to guide us and to fully engage their membership.

IFBLS will be 70 years old in 2024. All organisations must become and remain agile to survive. They must remember the past and be true to their mission and objectives. They must also adapt to changing circumstances and environments to survive. We had very positive engagement yesterday as we discussed the future of our Congress. We identified the core reason for its continuance as a method of sharing knowledge, acknowledging that we are part of a global community and learning from each other. The formula, that has stood us in good stead for many years, clearly needs revision. Yesterday you, and the Board, took the first steps toward what may become a ‘New Normal’. Nevertheless, if we wish to market the IFBLS Congress as an International Congress then we must ensure that we attract Biomedical Laboratory Scientists from all corners of the world. Not just Chief Delegates, who are crucial, but also scientists from the Boards of our members and the scientists working in the clinical diagnostic laboratories.

Part of this ‘New Normal’ has been the success of our Britta Karlsson webinar series. We are now recording these presentations and wish to make them available for our members to share with their members at a convenient time. This model may be developed more in the future to bring further added value to our members. The technologies used may contribute to our future delegate meetings and regional communications of members with the Board.

We asked you to present on issues relating to the Biomedical Laboratory Science workforce in your countries. There were several common themes throughout the presentations; insufficient trained staff, challenges of training while managing increased demand with reduced staff numbers, skill mix with non-regulated staff working alongside regulated staff and ageing workforce. These are global issues which we must work on together to highlight to both our governments and WHO. The risk of laboratories staffed by people who do not have adequate understanding of the analysis they are doing or the impact of results is not acceptable. It is certainly not in keeping with our World Biomedical Laboratory Science Day theme Biomedical Laboratory Scientists Guardians of Quality and Patient Safety.

I know won’t be here in another 70 years but I would like to think that IFBLS will be and that others will continue to Walk in the Footsteps of Giants

Marie Culliton

IFBLS President 2022 - 2024

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