The International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Science (IFBLS) is an independent non-governmental association of national societies in 35 countries, representing more than 165,000 medical laboratory scientists and technologists worldwide.
The IFBLS (originally called the International Association of Medical Laboratory Technologists – IAMLT) was founded in 1954 when Ms. Elizabeth Pletscher and her Swiss colleagues invited national medical technology associations, from a number of countries, to meet in Zurich, Switzerland. Such was the response to the invitation to attend that the decision was made to create an international association. Ms. Pletscher became the first secretary and later the Honorary Executive Secretary and was in office from 1954 to 1973.
At the Triennial Conference of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology (now the Institute of Biomedical Science) in Nottingham, United Kingdom, in 1955, a meeting was held and the first draft constitution of the future International Association was discussed. A further meeting was held on the occasion of the first Inter-American Convention in Quebec, Canada, the following year.
In 1957 a delegates meeting was held in Amsterdam, Holland, when study groups were formed by different nations to make enquiries on the situation of medical laboratory technologists all over the world. In addition, the legal status of the Association was discussed.
On the occasion of the Triennial Conference of the IFBLS in Bristol, United Kingdom, in 1958, the draft statutes were discussed and the first Council was elected. Mr. R. J. Broomfield from the United Kingdom became the first President.
The following year a General Assembly of Delegates (GAD) was held in Hamburg, Germany; the statutes were finally adopted and the preliminary reports of the study groups were discussed.
In 1960 the American Society of Medical Technologists and the Canadian Association joined IFBLS, making it truly a “World” organisation.
The first week-long international Congress, with a large participation from all over the world, was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1961. Two years later saw the publication of the first Newsletter of the IFBLS.
1964 saw the 10th anniversary Congress being held in Lausanne, Switzerland. Over 400 delegates from 16 countries attended. A decision was reached to hold the Congress biennially in future.
Congress was held in Berlin, Germany in 1966; Helsinki, Finland 1968; Copenhagen, Denmark 1970; Vienna, Austria 1972; Paris, France 1974; Chicago, USA 1976; Edinburgh, Scotland 1978; Durban, South Africa 1980; Amsterdam, The Netherlands 1982; Perth, Australia 1984; Stockholm, Sweden 1986; Kobe, Japan 1988; Geneva, Switzerland 1990, Dublin, Ireland 1992; Hong Kong 1994; Oslo, Norway 1996; Singapore 1998; Vancouver, Canada 2000. Orlando, USA 2002; Stockholm, Sweden 2004; Seoul, South Korea 2006. The venues for 2008 and 2010 were decided at GAD 2006 and they are India 2008 and Kenya, 2010.
In 1965 the IFBLS became a consultative member of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. A resolution was introduced to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in 1966, asking for a committee of experts to be formed to investigate the standardisation of training, in order to issue diplomas acceptable to other countries. The resolution was accepted and the committee of experts formed.
In the same year the IFBLS Newsletter (Med Tech International – MTI - began twice yearly publication.
The IFBLS was approved as a non-governmental organisation in official relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1972. On her retirement, at the Vienna Congress, Elizabeth Pletscher was awarded the first Honorary Membership of the Association, having served 19 years as Executive Secretary.
In 1973 the position of Executive Secretary was replaced by that of Executive Director and Mr. Ed Burkhalter of Switzerland was appointed to the post, which now became salaried. He remained in post until 1977, when Mr Guy Pascoe, United Kingdom, the then President of IFBLS, agreed to take on the secretarial duties in addition to his presidential ones. He continued with the secretarial duties until 1981 when Mr. Alex McMinn was appointed Executive Director. He retired in 1986 and in 1987 Ms. Margareta Haag became Executive Director. She continued in post until 2000, when illness necessitated her going on extended sick leave.
In 2001 the President, Ms. Martha Hjálmarsdóttir, Iceland, took on the role of Acting Executive Director in addition to her duties as President. Due to the high production and distribution costs it was reluctantly decided to discontinue publication of MTI.
At the World Congress in Orlando in 2002 the General Assembly of Delegates – GAD - voted to change the name of the organisation from IAMLT to IFBLS, this latter title being more reflective of the educational standards and role of the members of the profession. It was also agreed to move the registered office from Stockholm to Hamilton, Canada. A part-time office manager was appointed for the new IFBLS location within the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science ( CSMLS) building.
In 2003 Ms. Karolin Alkerton Stewart was appointed as Public Relations/Communications Director working with Office Manager Phyllis McColl. In 2005 Ms. McColl resigned and Ms. Alkerton was appointed to the position of Office Administrator.
2005 was the year IFBLS was incorporated officially in Canada by way of an EGAD to adopt new bylaws necessary for incorporation in Canada and the subsequent hand-over of assets of IFBLS from Sweden to IFBLS Canada took place in January 2006.
In April 2009, Ms. Janna Malseed was hired as Office Administrator. Ms. Malseed has worked in the not for profit professional association environment for 25 years with her previous position before joining IFBLS as Secretary-Treasurer of the Hamilton Musicians Guild. In 2013, her position was changed to Executive Administrator. She brings with her a wealth of experience in providing professional administrator support to the IFBLS Board of Directors and members.