The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, (AMLSN) has blamed the government for the high rate of misdiagnosis in public and private hospitals.
The body said the government’s refusal to recognise the practice and accord it, its rightful place in policy and planning attests to the failure in the medical sector.
Addressing reporters at the public presentation of new national executive officers of the group in Abuja, the association’s National President, Dr. Bassey Enya Bassey, said Medical Laboratory Science is a key profession that deserves a department and a budget in the Federal Ministry of Health.
Bassey stressed that a nation’s health system is as good as its medical laboratory system.
He, therefore, noted that strengthening the health system must begin with strengthening Medical Laboratory Services as, according to him, data generated from the laboratories constitute about 70 percent of the information needed for management of patients, policy formulation and budgeting or allocation of resources in the health sector.
Bassey said the sector would not succeed with the status quo.
“The laboratory is the only organ in health care 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 it? The answer is no.
“Now, look at the Federal Ministry of Health. What is the structure of laboratory in the ministry?
‘’The Office of the Head of Service has since 2001 moved for the establishment of the Department of Medical Laboratory Services in the Federal Ministry of Health. Until 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 it, ab-initio, we have planned to fail. We are going to see more cases of misdiagnosis because the foundation is supposed to provide a structure for its professionals at in ministry.
“We have cases of misdiagnosis that are planned for. We have seen a lot of disease outbreaks, which the system cannot contain. So, laboratories outside Nigeria come in to contain the system, whereas we have the capacity in terms of personnel, resources and infrastructure.
‘’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 presentation of the 2018 budget to the National Assembly, AMLSN urged the lawmaking organ to ensure the implementation of the Abuja Declaration on budgetary allocation to the health sector, which recommended a minimum of 15 percent of annual budget be appropriated to the health sector.
The group also said: “The government must ensure equity, fairness and justice for all health professionals in Nigeria; hence the inability of the government to enforce various court judgments pronounced in favour of Medical Laboratory Scientists in Nigeria is demoralising 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 lab 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 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.