TBY talks to Lizbeth Campillo H., President of CONALAC, on the importance of investing in training a new generation of staff who can help the population take better care of themselves.

Lizbeth Campillo H.
Lizbeth Campillo H. is President of CONALAC. She graduated as a medical technologist from the Universidad Latina de Panama. She subsequently received a master’s degree in health services management. She is the first president of CONALAC to graduate from a private university and is also the youngest president.

Can you elaborate on the mission and vision of CONALAC?

CONALAC represents all the laboratories in Panama. We are in charge of issuing certificates for new lab technicians. We also create specialization fields in accordance with the needs of the country. We investigate and certify the labs every year, both in the private and public sector. We conduct the ACCP test, which is the test for certification we give to new medical personnel. This test is done every year and new professionals have to pass this test in order to start working. Both the public and the private sectors use excellent medical equipment. We also train personnel to use this equipment. The public and private sectors compete with each other when it comes to attracting new employees. Some of the companies are extremely competitive and possess technologies that are not shared with anyone else. There should be greater investment in preventive medicine and medical research and investigation. The number of medical emergencies is increasing, and it is easier to prevent them instead of treating them. Currently, because of migration, diseases such as malaria, syphilis, and tuberculosis are growing in Panama. Diseases such as diabetes are much easier to prevent than treat. CONALAC plans to draft a proposal to conduct tours in other provinces and work together with the Ministry of Health and Social Services to gather census data in terms of people's blood levels, such as glucose and cholesterol. In 2016, CONALAC organized a conference in which 300 representatives from all over Latin America came together. They all focused more on the investigative area of laboratories. We have an agreement with the National University to deal with external quality control. It sends information regarding the areas in which it has gaps in, so we can address them.

What are your main priorities for 2017?

The main focus for 2017 will be to look at weaknesses and try to fix them. We will try to reach more areas. Now, coverage is limited and there are areas that qualified personnel cannot reach. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Social Services to train and certify more qualified personnel. We will also do our best to elevate the image of medical lab workers in the public eye. These workers are employed not only in hospitals but also in blood banks and other sectors as well, and it is important that their profession is regarded highly.