The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria is alarmed at the recent outbreak of monkey pox in Nigeria. This is one health emergency too many that our Country has had to contend with in recent times.
It breaks the heart to see how Nigeria has become a fertile ground for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in the face of dwindling budgetary allocation to the health sector by government and rabid interprofessional rivalry by key players in the health team. To this extent, our Association is miffed at this development which has exposed Nigerians to preventable and treatable diseases
Monkey pox, a viral disease first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, has its first reported case in Nigeria over a week ago with reported cases in as many as seven states of the Federation. This development reverberates the sordid disgust on the lack of concrete action by government in curtailing the resurgence of haemorrhagic fevers, meningitis and other infectious diseases in the country in spite of several appeals by AMLSN and other stakeholders on the need to establish and equip Public Health Laboratories, Human Vaccines Laboratories as well as viable and Integrated Surveillance System.
AMLSN, like most Nigerians, will not relent in asking our government and her health agencies the following questions:
Why are the health services (preventive, curative and restorative) of other countries more responsive, effective and reliable than that of Nigeria?
Why is it that most of our Public Health Laboratories are no longer in existence and where they exist, little or no attention is given to them for proper management and support with the needed resources (human and materials)?
Why is it that despite abundant resources in Nigeria (human and materials), the managers of our health sectors are not ashamed of sending blood and other samples collected from those suspected or infected victims of infectious diseases such as Monkey pox for testing to Senegal or less endowed countries and institutions to the consternation of our health system?
On Wednesday September 11, 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at her meeting rushed to adopt a proposal to set up a committee to produce a white paper based on the controversial, ill-advised, economically-leeching Yayale Ahmed Committee report simply because it favours the Pathologists who have become the favoured children of the two Ministers in FMOH and their ally in the Ministry of Labour & Employment because they are medical doctors. Funny enough, the Ministers never saw the need to convince government to create enabling environments and opportunities for Medical Laboratory Scientists, Pharmacists and others in the health sector to strengthen the health system in Nigeria to a level that our country will face her health challenges head on and avoid the incessant embarrassments from infectious diseases.
Are some countries and or foreign institutions producing and exporting laboratory reagents, equipment, chemicals, drugs and related items not taking advantage of the disharmony in our health sector, absence of strong regulation due to prolonged absence of Governing Boards of regulatory bodies like the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria(MLSCN), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria PCN), Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria ( MDCN) etc in the health sector and other relevant health institutions to consolidate on their grip on keeping the Nigerian health sector down in promotion of their merchandise and milking us dry of foreign exchange?
Why can’t government listen to our continuous calls for establishments of state, regional and national public health laboratories for routine medical surveillance of infectious diseases before their embarrassing outbreaks? Government must be careful not to turn the health professionals in Nigeria to unarmed soldiers in a war zone.
Why can’t the Nigerian Government invite Medical Laboratory Scientists, and other health professionals to brainstorm on how to seriously address the ugly health situations in the country instead of this mono-professional preference for doctors in a multi-professional health sector?
Any white paper on the controversial and rejected Yayale Ahmed Committee report skewed in favour of medical doctors at the expense of Medical Laboratory Science profession and others similarly and negatively affected in the report, would rather than solve the cancerous problem in the health sector only worsen it.
It is time for Nigerians and all the stakeholders in Nigerian project to wake up from our deep slumber to avert more perilous health challenges in Nigeria by rescuing the health sector from imminent collapse.
A stitch in time saves nine!
Alh Toyosi Y Raheem
Dr Surajudeen Junaid
Tam Adetunji Adeyeye
National Publicity Secretary.