ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) has claimed that the Federal Government’s insincerity in resolving lingering industrial disputes with Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and sister unions is giving health professionals reasons by the day to migrate out of the country for greener pastures.
The AMLSN noted that the development portrayed the government in bad light and that it had contributed to draining the country of skilled workforce in the health care sector.
The group’s observation is contained in a communiqué signed by its National President, Prof. James Garba Damen, National Secretary, Dr Musa Muhib and National Publicity Secretary, Olusoji Billyrose.
The communique was released at the end of its 57th annual scientific conference/workshop and Annual General Meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
The group, however, lauded the Federal Government for constituting a health reform committee, but cautioned against using the committee to drench the present tension generated in the health sector.
It affirmed that the ministers of Health and his Labour counterpart knew what exactly to do to stabilise the health sector instead of hiding behind committee reports to delay and derail justice.
The group noted that the current Covid-19 pandemic had lasted long because it met the entire world unprepared, saying that it was therefore important that the lifespan and impact of subsequent pandemics to be cut short through early preparation by all the pillars of outbreak investigation.
The AMLSN observed that the country could not effectively fight all pandemics if they relegated in-country research and development efforts and depended on the importation of all diagnostic inputs.
It, therefore, resolved that medical and research laboratories must be rightly positioned to begin in-country production of diagnostics test kits, vaccines and therapeutics, instead of relying on importation which is usually challenged by global demand, travel restrictions and antigenic mismatches.
The communique read in part: “The conference agreed that infectious diseases will continue to emerge and emerge at national and subnational levels and as such, medical laboratories must continue to reinvent their policies and practices to effectively investigate outbreaks with the view of containing them early enough before they progress into pandemics and international calamities.
“The conference observed that the laboratory component in any outbreak investigation is crucial, as such strategic investment must be made to ensure that medical laboratories can effectively respond to disease outbreaks by clearly identifying sources of disease outbreak and risk mitigation processes in rolling them back at infancy.
“The conference affirms that a strategic approach needs to be ensured to adequately prepare for the next pandemic. All relevant stakeholders should work synergistically with medical laboratory scientists to spearhead the following: collaboration and partnerships, funding, strengthening medical laboratory capacity and promotion of research and development, amongst others.
“Conference observed the subtle attempts by some non-medical laboratory science professionals and policy makers to make the medical laboratory profession all-comers affair thereby giving oxygen to unwholesome medical laboratory practices regardless of clear provisions of the MLSCN Act 2003.
“Adding that with infiltration of quacks into the practice comes weakened health system and underwhelming response to disease outbreaks and pandemics.”