Introduction: I am indeed honoured by this special gathering on this occasion of my investiture as the 12th National President of our great Association today 12/12/2014. This occasion also marks the official inauguration of other newly elected National officers of the Association. This programme no doubt, is the first of its kind in the history of our Association since 1964 though our Association has had eleven (11) past National Presidents and other executive council members. It is an initiative that is aimed at making leadership and governance conform to the 21st century format. It is also to formally present the new AMLSN leadership to policy makers, members of the public and other stake-holders. I therefore, welcome all of us here present, to this very special occasion.
Acceptance: This acceptance speech, to me, to say the least, is a mere formality because I had already accepted to serve this Association the very day I obtained the electoral form to contest for the post of national president of this noble Association. My aspiration was further made possible by the overwhelming supports given to me and other newly elected national officers through the votes during the peaceful but highly scientific elections conducted in Akure- Ondo State on the 8th of November, 2014. The electioneering processes including the actual elections and post election outcomes of our association, really demonstrated that we are not just Medical Laboratory Scientists but we are indeed, true democrats.
A call to service: Having served this Association consistently in various capacities in the past, I have realized that leadership of our great Association and in fact, any professional Association, It is indeed a call to service.
Let me reiterate in this speech, my believe in an all-inclusive administration. I will not allow any of the recorded victories and achievements to slip away. I and my other colleagues in the exco, will rather build and improve on our collective achievements. All the areas of attention listed in my manifestoes during our rigorous campaigns shall be immediately given results-oriented approaches and attentions. Other areas contained in the manifestoes of other elected national officers shall be integrated as our working documents. A true team approach shall be adopted by my administration. Broadly, my administration shall focus on improvement of medical laboratory operations/services in Nigeria through ensuring that medical laboratories in Nigeria both public and private, embrace accreditation requirements as contains in ISO 15189 accreditation standard and other relevant checklists, we shall ensure that Continuous Professional Development Programmes (CPD) of AMLSN/MLSCN meet the actual needs of the public and the clients while the un-tapped areas such as forensic DNA analysis will be engaged in with a view of making the services locally available at affordable costs. We shall ensure better welfare and improved service conditions for our members in public and private sector; we shall ensure that capacity of our members are built in Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS); ensure that our Association actively engage the media to make the public appreciate professional services of our members, we shall focus on research and development as an engine that drives national development. This will encourage our members to generate innovative, translational research works that will further emphasize our relevance as a professional Association in health care industry.
State of the Nation in Health Sector: Our Association has observed with regret, the manner in which the current crisis in Health Sector is being handled by Governments at all levels in Nigeria. It will be recalled that in any normal clime, crisis in health sector culminating in national industrial actions is handled with utmost urgency and attention. Regrettably, in Nigeria, crisis and industrial actions in health sector is given little or no attention at all. This in most cases, leads to avoidable loss of lives and unbearable economic burdens on the masses especially, in terms of getting alternative access to health care locally or outside the country (for those who could afford it). Early this year, NMA went on national strike for days before their issues were resolved albeit with consequent avoidable loss of lives. Similarly, the ongoing national strike by JOHESU members seemed not to gain urgent attention from government and the politicians. With this types of attitudes in governance and leadership, one wonders how Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health related MDGs could ever be achieved in Nigeria. Our Association hereby urges Federal Government and other stake holders to show commitments and give urgency to the resolution of the ongoing crisis in the health sector. Patriotic Nigerians should appeal to government to urgently discuss with JOHESU members on how to find lasting solutions to the crisis rather than leave the meeting till 15th of December, 2014. The current situation in the health sector deserves urgent national attention!
The National Health Bill: Information released recently reported that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) had given assent to the National Health Bill. It is our believe that what was presented for assent, was the harmonized version by the Senate and the House of Representatives. That is the version that would enhance the achievement of the good intentions of the drafters of the bill. The crisis in the Health sector would be further aggravated if any other version was presented for assent. The health of the citizenry deserves urgent and sincere attentions by all stakeholders.
Call for supports of all members: I use the opportunity of this occasion to call for the supports of all members of our Association. We also look forward to a fruitful working relationship with governments at all levels. We shall be receptive to inputs and suggestions that would enrich the implementation of our agenda. There cannot not be good leaders without good followers. We shall appreciate constructive criticisms accompanied with implementable suggestions and not just mere criticisms. There shall be a Monitoring and Evaluation committee by my administration to assess the level of implementation of our blue prints.
Conclusion: The journey in last fifty (50) years of our Association had been eventful. As we commence the journey towards the next fifty (50) years today, we pray that our administration will be a point of positive reference in terms of positive impacts we intend to make on our Association, our profession and on the health care delivery services in Nigeria in the next three (3) years. So help us God!
Alh Toyosi Y Raheem (MSc, FMLSCN, FAMLSN, PGD(Microbiol, Cert immunol)
National President, AMLSN