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The IFCC – serving laboratory medicine worldwide

Päivi Laitinen
Clinical Biochemist
Oulu University Hospital Laboratory
Oulu, Finland
Milan, Italy

The primary mission of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) is to serve public interest in healthcare by providing worldwide leadership in clinical laboratory science to national professional societies, the diagnostic industry, governments and nongovernmental organisations.

The IFCC was founded in 1952, and its legal domicile is in Switzerland. The Federation comprises 76 national societies, 39 corporate members, which provide in-vitro diagnostic supplies and services, and five affiliate members. The IFCC is also associated with four regional federations: the Arab Federation of Clinical Biology (AFCB), the Latin-American Confederation of Clinical Biochemistry (COLABIOCLI), the Asian and Pacific Federation of Clinical Biochemistry (APFCB) and the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFCC). The IFCC membership represents 45,000 clinical laboratory scientists and laboratory physicians worldwide.

The IFCC is a voluntary organisation. All the highly skilled professionals serving on the executive board, divisions, committees and working groups are unpaid volunteers who willingly devote a great deal of their time to assist in achieving our goals.

The present executive board of the IFCC has developed a mission statement, which reads as follows:
Our mission is to be the leading organisation in the field of clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine worldwide. Through leadership and innovation in science and education we will strive to enhance the scientific level and the quality of diagnosis and therapy for patients throughout the world. We will build on the professionalism of our members to provide quality services to patients. We will aim to communicate effectively with our members, other healthcare providers and the public to ensure knowledge of our excellent scientific and educational achievements. We will focus always on scientific standards, publications, education and communications. We will communicate effectively through a variety of electronic media. We will hold outstanding congresses and conferences to bring the efforts of IFCC to the global community.

The objectives of the IFCC are:

  • To promote a vision of clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine.
  • To complement and enhance the activities of its members.
  • To transcend the boundaries of each nation, each geographic region and each individual corporation by developing global concepts for laboratory medicine.
  • Through the scientific division (SD), to provide a forum for standardisation and traceability. This is achieved by establishing reference systems for the laboratory methods. These projects are based on international collaboration with scientists, in-vitro diagnostic companies and laboratory professionals, and they aim to improve the quality of healthcare for individuals and communities.
  • Through the education and management division (EMD), to provide IFCC members and the healthcare community with education relevant to clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine. EMD also offers critiques, advice and expertise on issues and problems related to laboratory management, teaching and education. This division focuses much of its activities on developing countries.
  • Through the Committee of congresses and conferences (C-CC), which is responsible for the general administration and management of all IFCC congresses, to organise conferences and symposia.
  • Through the communications and publications division (CPD), to communicate and promote the work and image of the IFCC to clinical scientists, physicians and healthcare policymakers worldwide. CPD coordinates the IFCC website. It also publishes the eJournal of the IFCC, IFCC recommendations and documents in collaboration with the journal Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM) and other international journals.

The IFCC’s scientific reputation has grown over the years, especially in regard to standardisation and reference materials. This would not have been possible without extensive collaboration with other international organisations. Among them are, for instance, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), Council of International Organisations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), European Institute of Reference Methods and Materials (IRMM), International Standards Organisation (ISO), International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) and World Health Organization (WHO). 

The IFCC’s scientific work, educational programmes, communications through its website, and the IFCC congresses and conferences throughout the world enable all laboratories to improve their quality and efficiency. Ultimately, the beneficiaries of these efforts are the patients and society as a whole. 

The recent vision of the IFCC is to develop integration of its projects, from scientific work to education, with publication of the outcome. This approach will mean closer relationships and collaborations with the different divisions. The IFCC is improving communication by creating a more user-friendly website and by encouraging its membership to be more active in participating in different IFCC activities. Another important area for the future is to collaborate with associations of clinical sciences, which is currently being done by the present executive board. The IFCC also aims to assist developing countries in achieving high analytical quality.