Communique released at the end of 17th Public Health Lecture & 207th National Executive Council Meeting of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria on the 23rd and 24th June, 2022 at the Banquet Hall, Kogi State Government House, Lokoja.
The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) held its 17th Annual Public Health Lecture, and 207th National Executive Council Meeting at the Glass House, Kogi State Government House, Lokoja. The theme of the Public Health Lecture was “Research and Epidemiological Survey: A Critical Tool in the Control of Communicable Diseases and Non-Communicable Diseases”. The theme’s Keynote speaker being Dr. Mary Ojonema-Alexander, the Acting Provost, College of Health Sciences, Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba.
Various speakers enunciated on sub-themes such as:
1. From Consumption to Production: Harnessing the Medical Laboratory Science Practice for National Development.
2. Institutionalising the Quality Culture: The QMS Pathway
3. Optimisation of Molecular Laboratories in the Post-Covid 19 Era Early Detection of Emerging Threats and Future Outbreaks.
The occasion was preceded by courtesy visits to some Government Institutions in the Kogi State’s capital. Below are such visits; made to Kogi State House of Assembly, Secretary of Kogi State Government, the Emirs Palace, among others.
The Public Health Lecture witnessed the presence of important dignitaries and government functionaries. The Chief of Staff to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Pharm. Abdulkarim Asuku, represented the governor, alongside the Secretary to the State Government as well as the speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, and other principal officers from the House of Assembly; the Head of the Kogi State Civil Service, among others.
At the end of deliberations, the NEC made the following observations and recommendations:
1. NEC congratulated President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the election and inauguration of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. NEC consequently urged the President to overhaul the health industry, empower stakeholders and rationalise the appointment of a health minister who doesn’t have to be a medic. NEC also congratulated Senator Godswill Akpabio for emerging as the President of the Nation’s 10th Senate. In the same vein, NEC also congratulated Honourable Tajuddeen Abbas on his election as the 15th Speaker of the House of Representatives. Medical Laboratory Scientists across Nigeria are optimistic that under their leadership suitable laws will be enacted for the transformation of the health sector.
2. NEC called on the Federal Government to expedite action on local production of vaccines with the resuscitation of vaccine production laboratories; not losing sight of the need to optimise our laboratories as well as engage in active partnership . The moribund nature of human vaccine production laboratories was decried, amidst the disturbing ascendency in emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19, Marburg, Lassa Fever and Monkeypox. Medical Laboratory Scientists are well trained in vaccine production technology. In the early days of this country, Medical Laboratory Scientists produced yellow fever and other human vaccines to meet in-country needs for vaccines, and exported same to a good number of countries within the African region; today, Nigeria has become a dumping ground for all sorts of vaccines produced using alien microbial strains, and coming from countries that were trailing behind Nigeria at Independence. The continuous deployment of these alien microbial based vaccines amongst our population poses a serious health challenge as it has been evidenced that many of these alien microbial-based vaccines have failed to elicit the requisite immunogenicity and the recipient therefore remains vulnerable even after vaccination.
3. NEC observed, also, that nations cannot effectively fight off pandemics if they relegate in-country research and developmental efforts which depend on importation of all diagnostic inputs. To this end, NEC resolved that, medical and research laboratories must be rightly positioned to begin in-country production of diagnostics test kits, vaccines and therapeutics, if we are to make progress in combating diseases, instead of relying on importation which is usually challenged by global demand, travel restrictions and antigenic mismatches.
4. NEC observed the crafty 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, 11, 2003, adding that with infiltration of quacks into the practice comes weakened health system and underwhelming response to disease outbreaks and pandemics
5. NEC saw the need for nobody and 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 to containing them early enough before they progress into pandemics and international calamities.
6. NEC called on the government and critical stakeholders in the health sector to enhance disease surveillance and response capabilities, to integrate multidisciplinary approaches in order to have informed decisions and targeted interventions.
7. NEC also agitated for the optimization of molecular laboratories across the country. These laboratories should be made to be perfect, effective and highly functional by providing adequate technology. Weak healthcare services, weak work force and weak public health response combine to cripple the functionality of molecular laboratories in Nigeria.
8. NEC observed that optimising laboratory operations in a post-COVID era requires a comprehensive and proactive approach. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of Molecular diagnostics laboratories in disease detection, surveillance, and patient care. It has also brought forth numerous challenges and lessons learned that should pave the way for improvement and optimization. By implementing these strategies and embracing a culture of optimization, medical laboratories can enhance their capabilities, contribute to improved patient care and maintain their essential roles in healthcare systems.
9. NEC also observed that the future outlook for laboratory optimization is promising, driven by ongoing advancements, interdisciplinary collaborations, and a focus on personalised and precision diagnostics. Healthcare providers globally continue to present patients with more personalised risk assessments, diagnoses, and treatments. Due to advances in precision medicine, practitioners are increasingly moving away from a traditional “one size fits all” perspective and towards individualised healthcare decisions for their patients. Precision medicine is an approach to healthcare that uses personal information-including genetic, environmental, and lifestyle data-to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.
10. NEC lamented the continual poor funding of the health sector in Nigeria, as public expenditure on the sector has constantly fallen below the benchmark of 15% of the national budget set by the African Union (Abuja Declaration).
11. NEC Conference appreciates the warm reception and support by the Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Yusuf Aliyu Umar; the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Dr Ayode Folashade Arike; the Chief of Staff to the governor, Pharm. Abdulkarim Asuku; the Head of Kogi State Civil Service and all the good people of Kogi State for their hospitality. His Excellency the governor is highly appreciated for approving the creation of Directorate of Medical Laboratory Services at Kogi State Ministry of Health.
Prof James Garba Damen
Dr Musa Muhibi
(National Publicity Secretary)