To gain accurate and quality diagnostics practices, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, has admonished West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science and the Nigerian Medical Laboratory scientists, to ensure conducive laboratory environment in West Africa the region as well as provide highly skilled professionals.
Affirming the charge recently, was Professor Osinbajo, while announcing open the 2020 Congress of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS) and induction/investiture of its Fellows in Lagos.
Osinbajo emphasised on the importance of accurate and reliable laboratory diagnosis in the prevention and control of diseases.
Represented by Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health, he noted that medical laboratory services are vital components of a quality healthcare system and continues to play a vital role in disease prevention, detection, surveillance and patient management.
“The medical laboratory professional is an indispensable partner in providing and ensuring optimal health care. As this a new cadre of laboratory professionals is birthed in the country, I am expecting it will not only ensure the availability of highly skilled professionals but I also expect them to ensure the laboratory environment is peaceful.”
While commending West African Health Organisation (WAHO) for the establishment of West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science, he added that it would harmonise the development of medical laboratory human resources across the ECOWAS region and Cameroon.
The theme of the Congress was; “The role of Medical Laboratory Professionals in the Successful Implementation of Universal Health Coverage in the ECOWAS region.”
In his address, Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director-General of WAHO, said Nigeria and other African countries should intensify efforts to make medical laboratory services accessible through public-funded health insurance schemes, as the countries move towards universal coverage of health services.
Okolo added that with a strong political will, the combination of diagnostic capacity, access to essential healthcare services will become available in low and middle-income countries like ours.
He called on development partners to collaborate with the government of Member States and especially the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science and other similar postgraduate and research institutions to carry out further specific researches on arresting the progressing cases of emerging and re-emerging diseases like Coronavirus, cancer and neglected tropical diseases in order to reduce the case fatality rate of this disease conditions.
“When diagnostics are not acknowledged as an essential component of the healthcare system, they get little attention, budget, and support for implementation.
If tests are not explicitly listed in national health plans or benefits packages, there is no mechanism for procurement, supply, and reimbursement. The consequences of underinvestment in diagnostics and laboratories are clear.”
Contributing, Mr Lawrence Lawson, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, said without quality laboratory services, no the health system can be resilient.
“A health system without adequate and quality laboratory service is like a tree without root and a hospital without a the well-equipped laboratory is incomplete and cannot be considered a hospital.
There can be no universal health coverage without the appropriate investment in quality laboratory service and that includes investing in the human resource, their liberty and independence to be innovative.”
While addressing newsmen shortly after the congress, Dr. Godswill Okara, Registrar of the college, expressed the preparedness of the college to collaborate with the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to tackle quackery in the profession.
Okara, who said 216 Foundation Fellows of the College was inducted, observed that for the African region to standardise the practice of the profession, the collaboration cannot be over-emphasised.
Okara said fake laboratory scientists are everywhere in Nigeria, adding that the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) has tried severally to carry out an inspection on all laboratory facilities in Nigeria, but there has been some form of resistance.
“We have noticed that if 10 people go to a laboratory to test for malaria, nine persons out of the 10, would be diagnosed with malaria and typhoid. Malaria and Typhoid are over-diagnosed; over-treated in Nigeria.
“To tackle that issue, there was a time when the AMLSN taskforce went on an inspection of laboratory facilities in Nigeria, which is in line with the law, but many private clinics resisted them. They started calling the federal ministry of health, and before we knew, the special team was asked to step down.
“So with that kind of situation, when authorities who are supposed to hold these people accountable of their actions, are the ones protecting them, the innocent public will be at the receiving end,” he added. The 216 foundation fellows were drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Togo, Gambia and Cameroon.