Education plays a pivotal role in the development of every profession, as well as the socio-economic and political advancement of any nation. However, for education to be effective, there are several factors to be considered, including the level of knowledge and skills to be attained by those to be trained in the educational institution as well as the expected outcome on the economy of the country.
Given to the emergence of new disease states and the obvious advancement in knowledge and skills of Medical Laboratory Science which has led to the approval of enhanced undergraduate degree (Doctor of Medical Laboratory Science, as seen in Ghana, USA, Pakistan, etc) and the establishment of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS) by the West African Health Organization (WAHO), there is no need for Nigeria to be going in the reverse (backward) direction by training manpower that does not meet the level of knowledge and skills required to meet up with global best practice in laboratory diagnosis in modern times.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weakness of our health system, and while other countries within and outside Africa are making efforts to improve laboratory manpower to strengthen diagnosis, Nigeria cannot be seen to be going in the reverse direction.
It is also important to place on record that we should not concentrate on low-level laboratory manpower in the Primary Healthcare system. If the physicians, nurses, and Pharmacists (who all hold university degrees) are employed at the Primary Healthcare system, it is absurd to not complement the health team there with a licensed MLS.
At all levels of health services, the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary, Nigerians deserve the best. It is out of standard that the Medical Laboratory Technicians in the Primary Health Care centres practice without adequate supervision by Medical Laboratory Scientists which is an impediment to the quality of laboratory services in the PHCs.
The Primary Healthcare system is the closest to our people. As such, it is only proper that licensed MLS and MLT professionals be employed to render healthcare services at that level of healthcare. Thus, the proposal to train Technologists and Assistants to work in the primary healthcare system will only defeat any effort to improve adequate and accessible healthcare for the benefit of Nigerians.
The Federal School of Medical Laboratory Technology (FSMLT) is one of the ancient schools that was key in the evolution and development of MLS but today we have gone beyond our ancestral home and have advanced to BMLS, MSc, Ph.D. in the field of MLS.
However, we are not ignorant of the meaningful role other low or middle manpower such as the MLT play in the MLS profession and are therefore not inclined to scrap in totality the MLT training but to advocate for the proper regulation of Schools Of Health And Technology and curtail the excessive production of MLTs from this schools with the FSMLT inclusive.
For the records, no School of MLT awards other certifications or exists as a college. Therefore, we cannot afford to denigrate the practice of MLS with different forms of certification emanating from the Federal School, Jos.
We must maintain standards and concentrate our efforts in producing competent and well-trained MLT from the federal school in Jos to meet up global expectations.
It is indeed appalling and a slight on the profession and her members that the FSMLT act was intended for an amendment without prior notice to the leaders of AMLSN and other relevant stakeholders within the profession.
This is not to mention that the amendment bill had gone thru its 1st and 2nd reading and was subjected to the committee on health institutions for a public hearing before it was exposed less than 6 days to the hearing.
It is also disheartening that for a bill that is centred around Medical Laboratory Science Practice, AMLSN, MLSCN, and other relevant stakeholders within the profession were not invited to submit a memo or appear for the public hearing but MDCN and other non-Medical Lab bodies were duly invited is an assault to the profession and her members.
This is unacceptable and the Young Medical Laboratory Scientists Forum condemns it in its entirety.
More so, the motive behind this amendment remains shady as stakeholders are yet to conclusively x-ray the amendment bill and come up with a memorandum.
We, therefore, call on our leaders to ensure that this bill is stepped down, and the school should remain as it is, since there is no impediment to her existence as of today.
That the content of the said amendment bill be critically looked into without pressure or duress to expunge any conflicting clauses with the MLSCN ACT 2003 or other clauses that is not in the best interest of the profession.
That the NPCMLS be captured in the amendment bill before it resurfaces for an amendment if need be.
MLS EMMANUEL KHODA NKUMAH
YMLSF NATIONAL PRESIDENT
MLS JEGEDE O. SULEIMAN
MLSF NATIONAL SECRETARY