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I have watched with dismay the show of power and the tussle for leadership in the Nigeria health sector. I have heard and read the point of view of the physician, the dentist, the medical lab scientist, the nurse, the pharmacist, the radiographer and the physiotherapist. I have also taken my time to study the curriculum of these medical professions. They are heavily loaded. To be sincere, none is easy. I have observed the students in these professions while in their different fields of training;The stress they undergo, the project they present at undergraduate level and have come to realise that of the professionals listed above, Medical lab science students and pharmacy students engage in the most tasking, time consuming and financially demanding projects. I stand to be corrected.

In the curriculum of these professions, Medical Lab Science, Nursing, radiography and medicine/ surgery, I find pathology as an integral part of their training. That is to say pathology is a subset of these professions and not a profession in itself. Should any of the professionals with pathology as a subset of their training decide to advance their training in pathology, such a professional becomes a pathologist as evidenced in many non physicians who are members and fellows of the Royal College of Pathology in the United Kingdom which is by far superior to any pathologist here in Nigeria. I shudder and grin with disbelief when a physician says Medical Laboratory Science is a branch of pathology. I think this big lie must stop!!!

Nigerians have been hoodwinked to believe that the physician is the alpha and omega of healthcare in Nigeria. I beg to disagree. Many cases abound where nurses have been the saving grace of many patients. Physicians many a time would send patients with physical disabilities to the orthopedic surgeon knowing fully well the best professional for such condition is the physiotherapist. The patients end up spending all his life savings on the wrong professional only to be dumped in the physiotherapy department when their finances have been exhausted.

Often cases, patients complain that they have visited hospitals for certain cases and the physician could not and has not discovered the cause of their ailment. Many then attribute their ailments to spiritual causes. But, some, on interaction with a medical laboratory scientist, have been made to undergo tests which the consulting physician never requested and BINGO! the cause of the ailment is discovered!

I WOULD RATHER WE HAVE A MODEL WHERE ALL THE MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS FORM A CIRCLE WITH THE PATIENT AT THE CENTRE BECAUSE IN THE COURSE OF INTERACTION AMONG THE VARIOUS PROFESSIONALS,, THE PATIENT GETS A COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION TO HIS/ HER CONDITION. Patients do not go to the hospital to see the physician as erroneously spread by our physicians, we go to the hospital to seek treatment. Some get the solution to their challenge only after seeing the pharmacist, some after seeing the nurse and some, after a visit to the medical lab scientist.

Our physicians usually mouth international best practice whenever they want to impose their thinking on the citizens but will never agree that it is international best practice to obey court rulings. Imagine what would be of Nigeria today if our politicians do not subject themselves to court rulings. Should a court sack a governor and the governor decides to sit tight to his post, what will be of that state?

Now let us take engineering for instance. We all agree that the electrical engineer deal with wires and connections. Would it be right for the mechanical engineer to look down on the electrical engineer saying, ” you only connect wires, so let me supervise you work so that it you do not interfere with y work and thus be your head because I do the main thing. I build the machines”. Or for the civil engineer to claim headship and lord it over the electrical engineer? Rather, each engineering specialty is autonomous with each respecting one another – not so in our health sector.

Also, I have read many times where our physicians refer to Medical Laboratory Scientists as Lab scientists, lab technicians and many derogatory names. This does not make our physicians more important nor superior. It only goes a long way to expose their insecurities. I think they should and be rightly called MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS. No health worker has ever referred to a physician as a ‘ward boy’ or ‘ward man or woman’ which in actual sense that is what they are. The rocket scientist with so much knowledge is yet to make as much noise as our physicians. Please, let each professional respect one another.

In conclusion, I call on all politicians, policy makers, traditional rulers, men of timber and caliber, state governors, members of the House of Representatives,the Senate, all government agencies, all political parties, all NGOs, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and the Commander in Chief of The Armed Forces, President Buhari – The Change Agent- to ensure that the different professional groups in the Nigeria health sector man the headship of their various professions without superimposing a group of persons on another profession in which they do not have a first degree in.

It would be against the law for physicians to say they would begin to send samples to one group of persons and ensure laboratory results are endorsed by them so to sympathise with them; when a court of competent jurisdiction – The National Industrial Court of Nigeria has ruled in the case of NUAHP and the management of OAUTHC that “NONE CAN ACT, SUPERVISE OR PERFORM THE FUNCTION OF THE MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTIST HIM NOT BEING A REGISTER/ LICENCED MEMBER OF THE MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENCE COUNCIL OF NIGERIA.”

Please let this fighting and war end and let the health sector of Nigeria move forward.

James Michael, Biochemist and a concern citizen of Nigeria.

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One comment

  1. My Biochemist your post is crystal clear. We sincerely thank God cos from the look of things normalcy is not far

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