Member Spotlight: Dr. Fausta Mosha
Dr. Fausta Mosha, Secretary of the ASLM Board of Directors, sat down with us to talk about her passion for solving clinical mysteries, the challenges of her work, and the future of the Society.
1. What first interested you in a career in laboratory medicine?
As a clinician, I enjoy solving disease-related problems through the use of laboratory tools, clinical studies, disease models and other experimental systems that advance the understanding and treatment of diseases. I also enjoy teaching and mentoring other laboratory professionals in the field.
2. Could you tell me a little about your work as lab director of the National Health Laboratory Quality Assurance and Training Centre, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Tanzania?
As laboratory director, I work in both administration and science. I oversee the implementation of laboratory strategic planning and resource management, as well as the mobilization of financial resources. I provide technical advice to the head of diagnostic services in the country and to clinical and preventive services on matters related to laboratory diagnostics. I provide leadership in the development of laboratory training programs and I manage laboratory staff and align their efforts with the goals of the National Health Laboratory Strategic Plan. I also coordinate laboratory disease surveillance.
3. Can you describe your typical workday?
On a typical day, I am involved in meetings, administration, responding to emails and working in the laboratory. I go to the laboratory to discuss plans and progress with laboratory staff. I meet with staff and partners to discuss the development of joint programs and disease control teams. I also teach master’s degree candidate students and laboratory staff about laboratory management and surveillance.
4. What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I most enjoy solving the clinical mystery of diseases. I enjoy investigating unknown disease outbreaks and working with a team of motivated laboratory staff to solve the puzzles.
5. What is the biggest challenge you face in your work today?
Laboratories in most African countries are experiencing multiple challenges, but my biggest challenges are advocating for the critical role of laboratories in disease control and making laboratories a priority. The importance of the laboratory must be recognized in order for necessary resources and equipment to be allocated to them.
6. What barriers do African scientists face?
African scientists struggle with the lack of proper policies for the use of science for decision-making. Economic limitations, like competing resources and priorities, force scientists to focus on urgent issues rather than on planning for the future. African scientists also face social problems such as poor training and illiteracy. Lack of infrastructure further limits what scientists can accomplish.
7. What are the challenges of working in laboratory medicine in Africa?
As I mentioned before, the lack of appreciation for the critical role laboratories play in disease management is a major challenge. Because of this, many laboratories do not have reagents, supplies or functioning equipment. There are also staff shortages, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Lastly, a poor networking infrastructure prevents laboratories from being able to support each other.
8. Have you seen the recognition of laboratory medicine increase over the past few years?
Yes, there is more appreciation of laboratories and emphasis on laboratory quality. We’re seeing initiatives like SLIPTA (Stepwise Laboratory Quality Improvement Process Towards Accreditation) for laboratory quality improvement as well as the improvement of infrastructure.
9. What role do you play as a member of the ASLM Board of Directors?
I am currently serving as Secretary of the Board, a role that allows me to work closely with the Chairman and board members to organize meetings and events and plan the strategic direction for the organization.
10. What kind of support could ASLM provide to assist medical laboratory professionals across Africa?
ASLM can do a lot for laboratory professionals. It serves as a professional organization that guides laboratory development within Africa. It can promote laboratory strengthening efforts and guide the certification process to advocate for high quality laboratory training. ASLM can also work with bodies like the WHO-AFRO and other partners to implement laboratory policies and guidelines in the African region.
11. Do you have anything else to add?
I would just like to add that it is time for laboratory scientists to gain recognition so that they can be equal partners, involved in patient decision-making processes, and provide the diagnostics and laboratory support that society needs.