The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSN, has attributed cases of wrong diagnosis across public and private hospitals in the country to the the failure of Nigerian government to recognize Medical Laboratory Science as a key profession that deserves a distinct department and budget in the Federal Ministry of Health.
Addressing journalists at the public presentation of new National Executive Officers of the group in Abuja on Saturday January 13th 2018, the new National President of the association, Dr. Bassey Enya Bassey, said the Nigerian government had failed to recognize the place of medical laboratory scientists.
Bassey said strengthening the nation’s health system must begin with strengthening Medical Laboratory Services as, according to him, data generated from the laboratories constitutes about 70% of the information needed for management of patients, policy formulation and budgeting or allocation of resources in the health sector.
He said the Nigerian government had failed to dedicate budget for laboratory services or have any department that could provide “command structure” for the scientists.
Bassey said the nation’s health sector would not succeed with the status quo.
“The laboratory is the only organ in the health care system that can notify you of an outbreak of any disease in the world. But, if you look at the position of the laboratory in Nigeria, do we have something that is desirable for the laboratory? The answer is no.
“Now, look at the Federal Ministry of Health, what is the structure in the Federal Ministry of Health of the laboratory? The Office of the Head of Service since 2001 has moved for the establishment of the Department of Medical Laboratory Services in the Federal Ministry of Health. Till today, that department has never been established.
“That translates to the fact that in the Federal Ministry of Health, there is no foundation for laboratory services. And, if there is no foundation for laboratory services, ab-initio, we have planned to fail. We are going to see cases of misdiagnosis because the foundation is supposed to provide command structure which will be coordinated centrally at the Federal Ministry of Health.
“We have we have here, cases of misdiagnosis is planned for, because ab-initio, we have planned for the system to fail. We have seen a lot of disease outbreaks in Nigeria, which the system cannot contain. So, we need laboratories outside Nigeria to come in to contain the system whereas we have capacity in Nigeria in terms of personnel. We have capacity in Nigeria in terms of resources. We have capacity in Nigeria in terms of infrastructure that we can put in place. But, deliberately, the Federal Ministry of Health has failed to put all these things in place. That will translate to the fact that we have planned that the laboratory system in Nigeria should not work,” he said.
While praising President Muhammadu Buhari for the quick presentation of the 2018 budget to the National Assembly, AMLSN urged the National Assembly ensure the implementation of the Abuja Declaration on budgetary allocation to the health sector, which recommended a minimum of 15% of annual budget be appropriated to the health sector.
The group also said “government must ensure equity, fairness and justice for all health professionals in Nigeria; hence inability of the government to enforce various court judgments pronounced in favour of medical laboratory scientists in Nigeria is demoralizing and demotivating and a portrayal of government bias against medical laboratory scientists.
“Governments at both federal and state levels must establish the Directorate of Medical Laboratory Services at the Federal and State Ministry of Health to enable Medical Laboratory Scientists effectively participate in policy formulation and implementation at the highest level.
“That government must implement the National Health Act so as to achieve Universal Health Coverage, aimed at ensuring accessibility, affordability and availability of health services to the citizenry.”
The new leaders are: Dr Bassey Enya Bassey, President; Chief Chris Elemunu, National Vice President 1; Dr Emenike Felix, National Vice President 2; Dr. James Damen, National Secretary; Prince Adeyinka Adedire, National Assistant Secretary; Dr Casmir Ifeanyi, National Publicity Secretary; Margaret Oche, National Welfare Secretary; Muktar Mainasara Yelda, National Financial Secretary; Dr Gloria Achibong, National Treasurer.