We’re being phased out from tertiary hospitals, medical laboratory scientists allege

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA–MEDICAL laboratory scientists in the country have alleged a subtle and systematic phasing out of members in tertiary hospitals through deliberate refusal of hospitals’ chief medical directors to employ professionals commensurate with needs analysis.

The laboratory scientists through their umbrella organisation,Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria,AMLSN,regretted that  “while other professional cadres in hospitals are enjoying consistent employment and replacement of members, medical laboratory scientists have been denied employment in various tertiary health institutions.”

“In Jos University Teaching Hospital, for example, the last employment of medical laboratory scientists was way back in 2007”, the association alleged in a communiqué issued at the end of its 15th National Annual Public Health Lecture Series held in Abuja.

The communiqué which was read to newsmen by the President of the association,Prof. James Damen,said members ” observed with sadness that some hospital authorities have resorted to employing and using non-medical laboratory scientists in the medical laboratory thereby aiding and abating quackery”,nothing that “this is a grand plan to weaken the medical laboratory capacity to respond to epidemics and shortchange Nigerians.”

The communiqué said  “participants were unanimous that much as the world anticipates and prepares for improved response against future pandemics, Nigeria must build capacity that addresses her present and peculiar epidemics and disease outbreaks” noting that “if we can have robust medical laboratories in-country that will effectively investigate local disease outbreaks and epidemics, we will have no issues dealing with trans-boundary disease outbreaks and pandemics whenever and however they appear.”

On COVID-19,the communiqué said:”Participants commend the policy direction of the federal government and efforts of stakeholders in sustaining national response against the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, especially the second wave that has proven to be more deadlier”,adding that “as much as efforts are geared towards containing the pandemic, efforts towards addressing other ailments must not be jettisoned.”

The association, in the 12-point communiqué, also assured Nigerians that medical laboratory scientists skilled in the knowledge and techniques of vaccine production were ready to start the development and production of indigenous vaccines against SARS-Cov2 and indeed all other infectious diseases.

“All we need is adequate funding and necessary laboratory infrastructure,” they said.

While observing that Nigeria was passing through a period of security challenges, the association urged Nigerians to be security conscious at all times just as it called on the federal government to do more to stem the tide of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism in all forms and presentations.

“Participants affirmed that as long as biotic and abiotic relationship amongst humans,animals and environment remains,disease outbreaks at national, regional and global levels will always arise and the best approach to dealing with the threat remains national and regional approaches based on peculiarities in climes,race and medical laboratory infrastructure,” the communiqué also read.

It also said:”Participants resolved that strengthening the medical laboratory capacity must start with strengthening the capacity of the medical professionals by exposing them to update courses, advanced training and enabling environment to practice the profession according to the dictates of the laws of the land.”

Quoting President Muhammadu Buhari that “Citizens should not joke with COVID-19 pandemic”, the association while noting that ” we all have role to play”, “said government should be responsive  enough to lead the way.”

The association said” all the country needed was local vaccine production with local strain.”

Participants listed what they called “inconsistent government policies;the overriding of national interests by personal interests; penchant for cutting corners;government bureaucracy and poor basic infrastructure-power,water among others as reasons Nigeria still cannot make human vaccines.”

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