LAGOS – Medical laboratory scientists (MLS), also known as clinical laboratory scientists, play a crucial role in the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients.
They perform complex tests on patient samples using sophisticated equipment like microscopes. The data they find plays an important role in identifying and treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
Other medical practitioners depend on medical laboratory scientists for accurate diagnosis to effectively manage any health condition.
With the emergence of various communicable and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) worldwide, including Lassa fever, cancers, Ebola, Covid-19 and many others, especially in the West African region, the need for sophisticated and well trained medical laboratory scientists at the highest level is now a necessity.
This is to enable them have the needed knowledge and competence to confront and provide the right diagnostic outputs for all forms of emerging diseases in the region.
It is also worth noting that without the right quality and quantity of medical laboratory science practitioners, the much talked about the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will be a mirage in the West African region.
That is why the recent induction of the 216 Foundation Fellows of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS), during their recently concluded congress in Lagos, Nigeria, is seen as a step in the right direction by many experts in the health sector.
The newly inducted fellows were drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Togo, The Gambia and Cameroon.
The Foundation Fellows spread across the different specialities and sub-disciplines of the medical laboratory science profession are grouped in faculties.
It would be recalled that on June 10, 2010, in Nairobi, Kenya, the delegates from West Africa at the 29th World Congress of the International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Science (IFBLS) met and agreed to form a platform for training and developing the much-needed specialist laboratory manpower for enhanced and effective health healthcare service and diagnostic capacity in the sub-region.
The name, West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS), was adopted by the delegates in attendance at the meeting. The proposal to establish the College was enthusiastically received by all in attendance at the meeting, and it was tagged: The Nairobi Initiative. Delegates from almost all the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were in attendance.
The College which will have its headquarters in Nigeria is established to foster and promote collaboration, cooperation and synergy with other stakeholders in the healthcare sector for effective and efficient health service delivery and health research outcome in the region for the benefit of its residents and the global community.
The College, according findings, is committed to the integrative pursuit and promotion of excellence in the postgraduate training of medical laboratory specialists to enhance the diagnostic capacity of efficient health service delivery, quality research, disease surveillance and control in the West African region.
Restating the relevance of well-trained medical laboratory scientists for the development of the West African region, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, declaring the congress open, said, “The importance of accurate and reliable laboratory diagnosis in the prevention and control of diseases cannot be over-emphasised.
“Medical laboratory services are vital components of a quality health care system and continue to play a vital role in disease prevention, detection, surveillance and patient management.
“It provides information and services that contribute to maximising effective delivery of care in today’s complex healthcare system by assuring that the correct test is performed on the right person, at the right time, producing accurate test results that enable care providers to make the right diagnostic and therapeutic decisions for better outcomes for patients.”