Addressing new norms in laboratory practice and changing academic landscape
Looi Lai Meng
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur
In 2015, United Nation member countries, including Malaysia, committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be achieved by 2030. Of these, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) emerged as a priority as 40% of the world population then lack financial risk protection and almost 400 million people had no access to essential health services. Yet, as UHC action plans were widely articulated throughout the globe, acknowledgement of pathology services as an essential component of UHC was sadly lacking. The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the world and setback all plans for the SDGs. Today, with 8 more years to 2030, only about 25% of the SDGs are on track. Yet rising from the ashes of this global tragedy is a “once-in-a generation opportunity” for the diagnostic services. Never before has the world looked so prominently to laboratory testing, which throughout the pandemic, determined decisions on almost every facet of Society. The Lancet Commission on Diagnostics, launched in November 2021, urged 10 recommendations on how diagnostics can bridge the gaps of unmet needs, among which, accessibility, affordability and development of technology in ways that benefit everyone, are key issues. In the new normal, virtual communication, digitalisation, artificial intelligence and point-of-care testing, among others, are poised to transform utilization and democratise diagnostics globally. Accordingly, the academic landscape will also have to transform to upscale workforce capacity and capability in innovative approaches, to ensure adaptability and preparedness to face crisis.