COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS OF NIGERIA (AMLSN) AT THE END OF HER 57th ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE/WORKSHOP AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD BETWEEN 8th AND 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2021, AT THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE BANQUET HALL, ONOPA YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE
The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) held its 57th Annual Scientific Conference/Workshop and Annual General Meeting with the theme “Medical Laboratory Preparedness for The Next Pandemic”
The Chairman of the occasion was His Royal Majesty, Dr. Josiah Biobelemoye, Ogbodo VIII, JOHESU National Chairman and Paramount Ruler of Amanayanabo of Opu Nembe Kingdom. The Keynote Address on the theme was delivered by Dr. Eruani Azibapu Godbless, the Group President/CEO, Azikel Group. The conference was declared open by the Hon. Minister of State on Health, Dr. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF THE CONFERENCE
- To assess the present pandemic as well as measures put in place globally and locally to contain it.
- To critically assess the performance of the laboratory pillar in Nigeria’s response to the pandemic with the view to identify areas that need strengthening for a more robust response in the future.
- To articulate key strategies and roadmap for effective medical laboratory response to future pandemics
- The conference applauded the Federal Government of Nigeria for constituting a health reform committee, but cautioned against using the committee to drench the present tension generated in the health sector, affirming that the Ministers of Health and his Labour counterpart know what exactly to do to stabilize the health sector instead of hiding behind committee reports to delay and derail justice.
- The conference lauded Medical Laboratory Scientists and other healthcare professionals for their resilience in the fight against the notorious SARSCov-2 virus, noting that in spite of lack of motivation as demonstrated by the government’s opaque stance on hazard allowance, health insurance and provision of safety kits and safe working environment, Medical Laboratory Scientists, and indeed all healthcare professionals, have stayed true to their professional calling of sacrifice to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
- The conference congratulates Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu on his new role with the WHO following the excellent job he did in NCDC to keep aground national and subnational outbreaks of Lassa, Monkey Pox, Meningitis, Yellow Fever, Ebola and most recently, SARS Cov 2. Conference added that Dr. Ihekweazu’s success was due to his integration of all shades of professionals in fighting disease outbreaks without bias and called on the newly appointed NCDC boss, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa to eschew professional marginalization and work with all.
- The conference noted that the current pandemic has lasted this long because it met the entire world unprepared. It is therefore important that the life span and impact of subsequent pandemics to be cut short through early preparation by all the pillars of outbreak investigation
- The conference observed that nations cannot effectively fight off pandemics if they relegate in-country research and development efforts and depend on the importation of all diagnostic inputs. To this end, conference resolved that, medical and research laboratories must be rightly positioned to begin in-country production of diagnostics test kits, vaccines and therapeutics, instead of relying on importation which is usually challenged by global demand, travel restrictions and antigenic mismatches.
- The conference agreed that infectious diseases will continue to emerge and re-emerge at national and subnational levels as such, medical laboratories must continue to reinvent their policies and practices to effectively investigate outbreaks with the view of containing them early enough before they progress into pandemics and international calamities
- The conference observed that the laboratory component in any outbreak investigation is crucial, as such strategic investment must be made to ensure that medical laboratories can effectively respond to disease outbreaks by clearly identifying sources of disease outbreak and risk mitigation processes in rolling them back at infancy.
- The conference affirms that a strategic approach needs to be ensured to adequately prepare for the next pandemic. All relevant stakeholders should work synergistically with Medical Laboratory Scientists to spearhead the following: Collaboration and partnerships, Funding, Strengthening medical laboratory capacity, Promotion of research and development
- The conference observed that preparation for the next pandemic also requires the following: Rapid portable and highly sensitive laboratory tests and identification of the causative organism, Rapid tests should incorporate indigenous technology.
- Medical Laboratory Scientists should be deeply involved in the development of technology for rapid manufacture of vaccines.
- Conference agreed that preparing the medical laboratory to respond adequately to a pandemic, medical laboratories must be standardized in line with ISO 15189:2012 guidelines to give credibility to laboratory processes and outcomes which are critical in mapping out outbreak control strategies
- Conference observed the subtle attempts by some non-Medical Laboratory Science professionals and policy makers to make the medical laboratory profession an all-comers affair thereby giving oxygen to unwholesome medical laboratory practices regardless of clear provisions of the MLSCN Act 2003. Adding that with infiltration of quacks into the practice comes weakened health system and underwhelming response to disease outbreaks and pandemics
- Conference observed that medical laboratory strengthening strategies must be robust enough to make medical laboratories effective in response and resilient under pressure as the world is already experiencing syndemics in addition to the ongoing pandemic.
- Conference agreed that in preparing for the next pandemic, stakeholders must objectively review strategies used in responding to the current and previous pandemics to isolate areas of star performance for consolidation and areas of weaknesses to strengthening adding that experience must lead the way in overcoming subsequent pandemics
- Conference admonished that the next pandemic will be rolled back faster if the one health concept is fully ingrained in our approach to global health, noting that the muscling of health professionals by a favoured professional group is counter-productive and weakens response to disease outbreaks.
- Conference observed that in preparing for the next pandemic, we must effectively tackle outbreaks and epidemics presently in our domains, noting that it is poor response to epidemics and outbreaks that snowballs into catastrophic pandemics and syndemics.
- Conference observed with deep concern, the insincerity of government in addressing and resolving lingering industrial disputes with JOHESU and sister unions adding that it portrays the government in bad light and that it is giving health professionals reasons, by the day, to migrate out of the country for greener pastures elsewhere, thus draining the country of skilled workforce in the healthcare sector.
- Conference appreciates the warm reception and support by the Governor of Bayelsa State, His Excellency, Sen. Douye Diri. Conference also appreciates His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria, His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Chairman, Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers and indeed the good people of Bayelsa State.
Prof James Garba Damen (National President)
Dr Musa Muhibi (National Secretary)
Olusoji Billyrose (National Publicity Secretary)