from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cap Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – AFRICA is set to expand the use of genomics in the continent to prepare for future pandemics and safeguard the health of its citizens.
The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) and Illumina, a global leader in sequencing technology, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the sixth biennial ASLM2023 conference in Cape Town.
To fortify Africa’s resilience against future pandemics, this collaborative initiative aims to harness the power of genomics to enhance disease surveillance, outbreak response, and public health interventions across the continent.
Additionally, the initiative is expected to boost local training in genomics and increase access to sequencing technology through a specialized genomics curriculum provided via ASLM’s training platform, the ASLM Academy.
Furthermore, ASLM will become part of the Illumina Global Health Access Initiative, extending access to pathogen genomic sequencing for public health in low and middle-income countries.
Nqobile Ndlovu, Chief Executive Officer of ASLM, said creating opportunities for genomics training within Africa is vital for building local capacities.
“Genomic sequencing is crucial for identifying and managing pathogens, and through this collaboration with Illumina, we aim to empower a skilled workforce that can conduct genomic sequencing domestically,” Ndlovu said.
Illumina’s recently launched Global Health Access Programme is forecast to play a pivotal role in this initiative.
This programme, developed with guidance from customers, funders, and market facilitators including the nonprofit FIND, will provide reduced pricing structures for eligible sequencing products from Illumina to qualified global health funding entities and address key international logistics and supply chain challenges.
Tom Berkovits, Illumina Senior Director: Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said genomic sequencing significantly contributes to detecting and responding to infectious disease outbreaks.
“The Global Health Access Program, with ASLM’s valuable participation, addresses challenges such as delayed response times and increased costs associated with shipping samples offshore,” Berkovits said.
– CAJ News