November/December 2020 EuroLabNews

2. Season's Greeting from the EFLM President

Dear colleagues and friends of Laboratory Medicine, unfortunately, this year has been unexpectedly challenging for all of us, both professionally and personally. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of activities around the world. It has been overwhelmingly demanding for healthcare systems in general and has put Laboratory Medicine on the first line of the fight against the pandemic. Besides many repercussions, the pandemic has accelerated the digitalization processes and has caused that most of the events have moved to on-line platforms or have been cancelled or postponed, waiting for better times. It was not different in EFLM. The EFLM Executive Board (EB) has decided to cancel the 3rd EFLM Strategic Conference 2020 and all EFLM short postgraduate courses planned for 2020, as well as all visits of the Executive Board members to National society meetings. The 6th EFLM Conference on Preanalytical Phase has been postponed to 2022 and EuroMedLab Congress has also been postponed from May 2021 to November 2021.
Despite many difficulties we have faced, I dare to say that 2020 was fruitful for EFLM. We have undoubtedly expanded, improved and promoted many of our activities. Maybe the most important EFLM project in 2020 was a launch of the EFLM Academy in January 2020. Today, along EFLM National Societies’ members, Academy is open to all individuals (even non-European) interested in Laboratory Medicine, as well as to representatives from In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) companies. The Academy has so far gained an impressive number of more than 4350 members, and besides other benefits has offered five successful and highly attended webinars, organized via EFLM e-learning platform. EFLM webinars have been a great opportunity for our colleagues to learn about COVID-19 biology and diagnostics, communication, leadership, management, POCT and Urinalysis. For 2021, EFLM continues with this form of education and here I wish to announce three exciting upcoming webinars which will cover very important topics for our everyday work: the verification of quantitative and qualitative methods as well as verification of the indirect methods reference intervals.
With pleasure I also wish to note that one new full member (The Laboratory Medicine Association of Georgia) and three new affiliate members (The Academy of Clinical Science and Lab Medicine, Ireland, Serbian Society for Clinical Laboratory Medicine, Serbia and The Order of Biochemists, Biologists and Chemists in the Romanian Health System, Romania) have joined EFLM in 2020. Welcome on board!
The numerous EFLM's working groups and task forces have been very successful in publishing the results of their studies (14 publications in high impact journals). Furthermore, EFLM has been increasingly active in virtual space and social networks, gaining an exponentially growing number of followers and members.
Collaboration with other biomedical societies and organizations has been set as one of the main goals of EFLM. EFLM has been accepted to the Biomedical Alliance in Europe, an organization representing 33 leading biomedical societies in Europe and more than 400,000 researchers and health professionals. As its member, EFLM has taken part in a critical initiative initiated during the peak phase of spring COVID-19 pandemic with the aim to persuade the decision-makers in Europe to support the uninterrupted functioning of all medical and research societies throughout Europe. Furthermore, EFLM focuses on taking an active role in regulation- and policy-making in Europe. Therefore, we have founded a new Task Force on European Regulatory Affairs, which will have an important role during meetings and consultations of the European Commission (EC) regarding interpretation and operationalization of the IVD Regulations.
To encourage and expand the professional and scientific development and exchanges of our colleagues from EFLM National Societies coming from lower income countries, according to UN and World bank classification criteria, the EB has decided to launch an EFLM bursary programme. The new bursary programme is dedicated to the memory of the first president of EFLM prof. Vic Blaton. Although the programme is designed with a wide range of opportunities for our colleagues, due to COVID-19-related uncertainty we are at the moment able to offer only the EFLM Academy memberships. One of the key aims of EFLM is to attract young colleagues, who definitely are the future of EFLM. We hope they will be encouraged by these exciting opportunities to join the EFLM and get involved in many of its activities.
I would like to share my appreciation and gratitude for witnessing the optimism and devotion of all our committees' and working groups' members and colleagues from national societies. They have shown the will and readiness to adjust and overcome challenges and obstacles set before all of us in these difficult times. I take the opportunity to also welcome a number of new enthusiastic colleagues who have recently joined various Committees, Working groups and Task forces in EFLM. Thanks to all of you, EFLM is rapidly moving forward! I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all of them. Thank you all very much!
Finally, with hopes that we will overcome this ongoing crisis together, I send you my best wishes for forthcoming holidays and a happy and successful start in 2021. Please keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy.
Ana-Maria Šimundić, EFLM President