For daring to give directives in the health sector that clearance must be obtained from the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) for product certification before the importation of In-Vitro Diagnostics into the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to go to battle with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who issued the order.
A section of the circular by the CBN with ref No: TED/FEM/FPC/ GEN/01/001, dated April 24 2014 and signed by its Acting Director (Trade and Exchange Department), Mr. J.O. Ajewole reads, “Documentation in respect of imports of IVDs shall include Certificate of Registration of the importer and product certificate issued by the MLSCN. Bonafide importers who intend to import IVDs into Nigeria are therefore advised to apply to the MLSCN for registration.”
The new NMA National President, Dr. Kayode Obembe warned the CBN to revoke the order or the nation will pay for it. This was made known during his maiden press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja after he was elected in Benin, crying that the MLSCN may have gone to lobby CBN to make such demand. He asked the CBN to withdraw the circular as there are already established bodies for such.
“Already, we have NAFDAC and SON which have been established to enforce standards. If you go on to proliferate other bodies, it will be like another import license scandal and it is not going to augur well for the healthcare delivery system in Nigeria. Let the organizations which have been charged with these responsibilities continue and we don’t need any more. That is why the CBN has to withdraw this circular with immediate effect. But if they insist, we will use every means to resist them because it is unnecessary. So if I want to do ultra scan, I must first of all go to the MLSCN to get clearance. What we are trying to do is to remove all obstacles as we have in civilized countries.”
The association promised to use every legitimate means to see that the action of the CBN do not see the light of the day; noting that such amounts to causing trouble where there is none.
Mr Obembe charged physicians to be on duty as other Medical and Health workers plan to go on strike. They also demanded form the government that their members should be given cars and ambulances, to enable them cope with emergency situations as it obtains in other developed countries especially in the US.
“All Doctors in Nigeria should be given cars and medical ambulances because wherever they are all Doctors would be able to tackle emergencies in line with global trends, especially in the United States of America. We are therefore ready to take our rightful positions in tackling emergencies. Even the kidnappers when they are sick, they go to hospitals. In order to guarantee peace, progress and harmony in the health sector, the government should tackle these naughty problems headlong without unnecessary procrastination or prevarication”, he said
Other demands made by NMA is the speedy passage of the controversial National Health Bill (NHB), Security for their members, placement of fresh medical students on Housemanship as well as overseas residency training for them.
A top medical consultant who prefers anonymity who spoke to us wondered why cars should be a priority for Nigerian doctors when such will not add value to the patients’ lives. “All of us who are in the clinical line can buy a car for personal use, so why tell government to buy cars. Will it also get to doctors in the private hospitals? Will Nurses and Pharmacists also get these cars? I believe that Dr Obembe is not speaking for our association on this matter but himself”, he said
A staffer with the CBN confided in this newspaper that the circular is in line with global standard and no amount of blackmail can make them withdraw it. “When did they become lab scientist that they now import diagnostics equipments and why won’t they get permission from the appropriate association if they must import”, the senior staff told us.