By Joseph Erunke
MEDICAL laboratory scientists in the country have asked the federal government to establish vaccine production factories as week as effective testing laboratories across the six geopolitical zones.
The health workers,speaking under the aegis of Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSN,said their call was fueled by the outbreak of various viruses that have threatened the country in recent times,most especially the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world at the moment.
The new president of AMLSN,Professor James Damen,told Vanguard Saturday, in Abuja, on the sideline of event held to inaugurate the newly elected executive members of body following their 56th annual general meeting.
Prof. Damen insisted that the country needed world class vaccine production factories and effective testing laboratories to handle effective testing and vaccine production.
Making reference to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, Avian Influenza, Ebola, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, Damen insisted that it was time for the governor to prepare against any possible virus outbreak by establishing the centres.
“With the fear that no one knows which will come next, the need to have proper standard and well equipped laboratories have become a necessity,so that the scientists can be working daily to face any challenges ahead and be able to make our own vaccines for the black nation,” he said.
He said:”I am saying this given how underdeveloped the medical sector is in the country is leading to the reason why a lot of the rich and elites go on medical tourism to get treated when they fall ill. To emphasize the importance of medical laboratory scientists in the nation cannot be exaggerated as good diagnosis is key to proper treatment.”
Speaking on the challenges ahead of him as President of AMLSN,he promised to work towards the unity of all members and ensure professionalism among all members in terms of capacity building so that they can effectively tackle diseases affecting the people
He stressed that effective laboratories were key to effective diagnoses,he assured that his administration would work towards utmost improvement in medical laboratories,saying it was one of his strategies to discourage medical tourism and encourage effective treatment in the country.
Hear him:“Majority of our people involve themselves in medical tourism as a result of the poor laboratory services in the country And our cardinal objective is to engage government appropriately to improve our infrastructure, to improve the equipment in our medical laboratories, and the capacities of our laboratory staff have to be built up so that we can be able to do effective diagnosis.”
According to him,“Globally, when someone falls ill, the most important thing is to find out what is wrong with him or her”,adding:” And it is only the laboratory that can do what we call a definitive diagnosis. That is very key to me as the national president”
Noting that health is not only wealth but also the key to successful living, he charged Nigerians to work towards ensuring that Nigeria’s health sector was built built properly.
“If we are able to fix our medical laboratories all over the country, we would have solved half the problem of Nigerians,” he said.
Also speaking at the event,the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Acouns Lab. Assist Nigeria Ltd,Chief (Mrs) Adunni Chinyere Udu, who doubles as Chairperson,Board of Trustees (BOT) for the association,disclosed that she has huge plans in place to tackle all of the challenges faced by AMLSN
Regretting that the organisation was being sidelined on issues concerning medical laboratory scientists in the country, Adunni said laboratories in the country were archaic and needed not only to be well- equipped but also revamped to meet modern international and 21st century standard.
She said:“The federal government has done very well, but unfortunately, what concerns the labs are usually managed by people that are not members of the professional body or that are not lab scientists.
” It goes back to say a round peg in a square hole or a square peg in a round hole because the people that have been given the mandate to take responsibility to make sure there’s improvement in diagnostics nationwide in the laboratories are not doing the right thing and my being elected is to correct the wrong that have been going on for decades
“A wrong diagnosis leads to blind treatment. The labs nationwide are more like 16th century labs,we must revamp them. We have taken the responsibility now to make government aware and bring it to standard.
“And that standard is where everyone in this country will like to go, to get tested and when you go there, you won’t even know you are in Nigeria or outside this country.”
She spoke on the need for Nigeria to produce its own vaccines with owned established functional institutions.
“We,the new executives and the new board of trustees are here for the people of Nigeria and we are here to promote the progress of this country. We need institutions where we will be making our own vaccines. We are sitting now and just folding our hands and waiting for the white man to come with a vaccine for all of us. But we do not even have machinery in place to access the efficacy and what we are taking. We are black people and we need institutions in the six geo political zones in the country,”she said.
Speaking earlier, the immediate past national President,Bassey Eyan Bassey,regretted that he had started some projects close to his heart but hadn’t gotten the result he wanted before his tenure expired.
According to him,one of the projects is the establishment of Department of Medical Laboratory Services to coordinate all laboratory activities in Nigeria.
He said in spite of the fact that there were 40 laboratories, 25,000 medical laboratory technicians, and 15,000 medical laboratory assistants in Nigeria,there was no one to coordinate effective laboratory service, blaming the Federal Ministry of Health which he identified as the head command structure in health matters in Nigeria, to the development.
Citing South Africa,Bassey pointed out that the southern African nation has a national health laboratory service which coordinates vaccine production, infectious disease control and coordinates cancer registry in south Africa.
He regretted that mere yellow fever test samples were being taken to Ouagadougou to conclude test results where they have facilities for it,saying the development reduced the image of Nigeria he referred to as the “giant of Africa.”
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Source: Vanguard Newspaper