COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF 193RD NEC MEETING/ANNUAL PUBLIC HEALTH LECTURE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS OF NIGERIA (AMLSN) HELD AT UNIVERSITY OF CALABAR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, CALABAR, CROSS RIVER STATE BETWEEN 3RD AND 7TH FEBRUARY, 2016.
The Annual Public Health Lecture of the Association was held on Friday February 5, 2016 at the University of Calabar International Conference. The theme of the Public Health Lecturewas “Spongiform Encephalopathies: Disorders of Economic and Public Health Importance; Wither Nigeria?” Prof Oduola Abiola of the Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State and visiting Professor, Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Kings College, London,gave the Keynote address.
The sub theme titled “The Role of Medical Laboratories in the Containment of Diseases of Public Health Significance (eg Spongiform Encephalopathies, Lassa Fever and Ebola Virus diseases) waspresented by Prof Monday Francis Useh, Dean of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Calabar.
The Public Health Lecture was preceded by Courtesy calls on selected eminent persons and Institutions in Cross River State for example the Obong of Calabar, Hon Commissioner of Health, Management team of University of Calabar, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, all in Calabar where the National President, Alh Toyosi Y Raheem, pushed for implementation of all extant circulars and court judgementsin favour of Medical laboratory Scientists. The lectures addressed in details,issues around the theme and sub-themes as they related to public health, laboratory strengthening and capacity building and made the following recommendations:
Observations and Recommendations
1. NEC identifies with the government and people of Nigeria over the current upsurge in Lassa fever epidemic barely a year after the outbreak of Ebola virus disease which ravaged many African countries. NEC subsequently condoles the families of those who had lost their loved ones to the disease and called on the public to adhere strictly to the preventive measures of personal and environmental hygiene
2. NEC acknowledged and commended the Federal government for the fight against corruption in Nigeria and encouraged PresidentMuhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to ensure that all looted funds are recovered a ploughed back into programs that will benefit the masses.
3. NEC noted the threat of neglected diseases such as spongiform encephalopathies and haemorraghic fevers. NEC advised that the challengemust not be undermined by government, medical professionals and indeed all stake holders in view of recent rise in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and haemorrhagic fevers in Nigeria and the world over
4. NEC also acknowledged that the challenge of public health is one which government and stakeholders must brace up to in the face of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. It was the opinion of NEC that public awareness and strengthening of human and infrastructural resources must be given priority since the core mandate of government is in the security of human lives and property.
5. NEC noted with utter dismay the inadequate diagnostic laboratories inNigeria, a country of over 170 million people yet coping with few ill-equipped diagnostic centres for public health emergencies. NEC also urged Medical Laboratory Scientists to renew their commitment to accurate diagnosis and translational research into neglected diseases such as spongiform encephalopathies and called on relevant authorities to close this existing gap for the overall health benefit of the people.
6. NEC appreciates the steps so far taken by the Federal and State Governments in managing the spread of Lassa fever through mass awareness and supply of ribavirin to most centres and called on government to ensure that BSL4 laboratories are established in each geopolitical zone of the country. Similarly, Recent commitments by government to establish Lassa diagnostic centres in 14 states of the federation is a welcome development and NEC hoped that it will not go the way of other white elephant projects we have had in the past
7. NEC commends the health professionals in Nigeria for rising to the occasion any time duty calls in spite of challenges of updated skills, outdated equipments and below-standard facilities of diagnosis and treatment. NEC however reminds health professionals to ensure the proper and regular use of Personal Protective Equipment and world best practices in the discharge of their duties as they need to first remain alive to keep others alive in the face of dreaded epidemics
8. NEC appealed to all states in the federation to create directorate of medical laboratory services in their respective ministries of health, and to appoint the most senior Medical Laboratory Scientist as a substantive director in the ministries of health and health management boards, as done in Nursing, Pharmaceutical, Clinical and other services. This will ensure conformance to quality management system in all medical laboratories and the implementation of ISO 15189 standard for all medical laboratories
9. NEC called on government at all levels to constitute active surveillance teams that will ensure holistic surveillance at all times to detect early warning signs of disease outbreaks to avoid health emergencies that may impact gravely on innocent Nigerians.
10. NEC called on the government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency institute a system for screening for Zikka virus especially amongst pregnant women in Nigeria in the light of information from WHO that the Zikka virus is rapidly spreading to other countries in the world.
11. NEC commends the judiciary for being the last hope of the common man in the light of recent ruling in the case between medical lab scientists and management of OAUTH. We hereby call on the Federal government and the various health institutions to ensure immediate implementation of this and other judgements in favour of medical laboratory scientists
12. NEC called on government to abide by the provisions of the National health Act as its implementation is a sure recipe to overcoming the perennial challenge of low budgetary provisions to the health sector. The demand on government to allocate 1%of it’s total budget to the health sector is definitely a right around the right direction
NEC appreciates the contributions made by the Cross State Government under the leadership of his Excellency Senator (Prof) Ben Ayade, the Hon Commissioners for Health, Information, the Medical Director, Neuropsychiatric Hospital Calabar and the Obong of Calabar for the warm reception given to us during our activities in Calabar. We also appreciates the Cross River State branch of our Association for successfully hosting the Public Health Lecture and the 193rd NEC meeting of the Association.
To God be the glory!
Alh Toyosi Y Raheem
Dr Surajudeen Junaid
Adeyeye Tam Adetunji