SEQC Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

Spanish Laboratory Medicine collaborates in setting up a Clinical Laboratory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The SEQCML is participating in this solidarity initiative by providing a grant for a visit by a Clinical Analysis specialist

Spanish Laboratory Medicine collaborates in setting up a Clinical Laboratory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Snapshot of the Ditunga Project in Ngandanjika, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • With the collaboration of a Spanish professional and member of the Society, a clinical laboratory has been launched in the new Hospital Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
  • The initiative is part of the CSR objectives of the SEQCML that seek to improve the quality of life in disadvantaged communities

The Spanish Society for Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML), through the José Luis Castaño Foundation-SEQC, has collaborated in an ambitious solidarity project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that seeks to improve health conditions in the area through the launch of a new hospital. This initiative is part of the Ditunga Project, which has launched a new medical centre, the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Hospital, and which is the most modern in the region in many ways, especially in regard to the equipment it has.

The Ditunga project is taking place in the Ngandanjika territory, in the province of Kasay Oriental, one of the most isolated in this African country, plagued by various armed conflicts in recent decades and with many development needs. As explained by Dr Antonio Moreno, member of the SEQCML Board of Directors, this initiative had the necessary characteristics to justify the Society’s involvement. This participation takes the form of the financial grant so that one of the SEQCML members, Belén Fernández Puntero, a doctor in pharmacy and specialist in Clinical Analysis, could travel to and work in the area for two weeks. The objective was for this professional to participate in the start-up of a Clinical Laboratory in the new hospital.

"In this first mission we proceeded to establish the bases of the laboratory, adaptation of spaces, and start-up of equipment, but various actions are still pending", explains Dr Moreno, who details that, among other aspects, it is still necessary to reinforce the training of personnel in various areas, increase the portfolio of services, and improve the management of both documentation and the clinical laboratory itself.

Belén Fernández Puntero explains that the experience of launching the hospital was "very intense". “We found the building and little else. It was necessary to set up stretchers, operating room tables, an ultrasound machine, the blood bank refrigerator, the hospital pharmacy, the water distiller, sterilizers and, of course, the entire laboratory, which had walls, a laboratory worktable and little more. In fact, it was necessary to extend the worktable, electrical outlets, and finish the water connection”.

The Clinical Analysis specialist explains that shortly after arriving in Ngandanjika, the operating room started operations and was able to collaborate with the rest of the health professionals. At the same time, and while the laboratory was being completed, Dr Fernández Puntero provided analytical guidance for some of the patients undergoing surgery or those who came for consultations.

“At a clinical level, you learn a lot, because there you can see live and in person the pathologies that we have studied in books; but also at a technical level it is a very enriching experience, because with the means available you have to be able to offer support to the clinicians with whatever laboratory medicine that you have available in the circumstances,” explains Dr Fernández Puntero.

“Participating in these initiatives is a personal option, it is a way of contributing and giving back something that we have received. I have had the immense good luck of being born in a developed country, with advanced healthcare and sanitary conditions ... that is why I feel obliged to give back some of all this, and my way of doing so is to teach what little I know. In addition, I must thank the great effort made by the José Luis Castaño-SEQC Foundation and SEQCML itself to improve the training of its members and enhance the specialty of Laboratory Medicine”, concluded this specialist.

In the same vein, Dr Moreno points out that in Spanish laboratories professionals are used to having technical and personnel resources that cannot be extrapolated to situations such as those seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, he indicates, "the needs of the population that we must attend to are the same from the healthcare point of view, so our Clinical Laboratory specialists must also learn to cope in these situations”.

Corporate social responsibility

As indicated by Dr Moreno, the purpose of the SEQCML is to actively contribute, through its corporate social responsibility (CSR), in social, economic, and environmental areas, focusing particularly on communities in underdeveloped or developing countries. “Our objective in this project is to contribute to improving the quality of life in disadvantaged communities. We do not seek external recognition, but obviously, we project the importance and the high level of Spanish Laboratory Medicine”, said the doctor.

Along these lines, Dr Moreno highlighted that the SEQCML participates in other initiatives, with special mention of the collaboration with the Latin American Confederation of Clinical Biochemistry (COLABIOCLI) through the José Luis Castaño-SEQC Foundation for the development of Laboratory Medicine, issuing financial grants so that members of Latin American countries associated with COLABIOCLI can carry out training stays in Spanish Clinical Laboratories.

You can find out more about the Hospital Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, in Ngandanjika, in this video: https://youtu.be/qgHoaSvB4wg