BACKGROUND: In November, 2010, Niger State had the privilege of hosting the 177th NEC meeting of our Association. That was under the leadership of the then hard working, reliable and astute Medical Lab Scientist Mr Isiaka Olawepo Ganiyu as the then branch chairman. I was the National Secretary of our Association then. Going through the memory lane, the hosting of that NEC meeting by Niger state branch of our association, was extraordinarily successful! It was therefore, not surprising that this time around, the national body of AMLSN did not only approve the hosting of the 189th NEC meeting, it also graciously permit the branch to host both the Public health Lecture and the NEC meeting. Coincidentally too, this is happening at time I assumed office, as the 12th National President of AMLSN. I am more than convinced that Niger state branch of AMLSN, as well as Niger State Government, will make all our slated activities in the State, even more successful and positively remarkable more than that recorded in 2010.
The Thrust of the current AMLSN Leadership: On assumption of office, the current administration resolved to make all our activities structured in such a way that the need of the people who are consumers of our professional services in areas of diagnostic services, research, human resource development, preventive/public health services etc. are met. We have resolved to improve on the capacity and competences of members with a view of achieving quality and better health system in the country. Like I said in my investiture speech on the 12th of December, 2014, whatever CPD organized by AMLSN under the present leadership, shall ensure that the needs of the people are met.
Burden of Diseases in Nigeria: Statistics has shown that burden of diseases in Africa and specifically in Nigeria, cannot be ignored by health professionals especial the Medical Laboratory Scientists. Of special interest in the MDGs is the reduction in the burden of Malaria, TB and HIV. With the target dates already under MDGs already around, evidence has shown that increased efforts are required by health professionals to reduce or eradicate the burden of malaria and other diseases in Nigeria especially among the vulnerable groups such as children, immunocompromised, pregnant women, people in malaria endemic communities etc where such disease burden could be fatal or lead to so many loss of economically productive man-hours.
This year, we are focusing on malaria because the burden of the disease is still worrisome.
The recent observation by members of our Association on certain categories of people going about with lap tops in Motor parks, market places and even restaurants in the name of computerized testing/health screening and the recent radio announcement sponsored by Malaria Eradication Programme of the FMoH have compelled us to mount this public health lecture on malaria-diagnosis, treatment and other related matters.
No doubt, getting correct diagnosis and correct information on malaria is also of paramount importance to us as an Association. This will eventually contribute to total eradication of malaria and guarantee the biosafety on blood testing for malaria in appropriate medical laboratories and not doing the test in just any place such as pharmacies and market places where appropriate disposal of materials used, professional competence etc are of greater risk to the community in addition to quality assurance issues that can give misleading results.
Demonstration of partnership for development: AMLSN shall continue to teach out to all stake holders in the health sector to bring about partnership for development. No wonder the public health lecture this year, reflects the desired inter-professional and inter agency collaborations. These, we believe, are essential tools that will facilitate effective diagnosis and treatment of health challenges not only arising from malaria but also from other causes.
CPD and knowledge acquisitionfor effective professional services: Continuous professional development is an essential tool for excellent professional services. It is our expectation that Medical Laboratory Scientists nationwide, will continue to offer quality diagnosis in malaria and by extension, quality and effective evidenced based treatment. By so doing, emergence of drug resistance or efficacy of treatment, based on the parasite clearance, rather than disappearance of malaria symptoms alone, can be ascertained.This will prevent recrudescence and relapse of the disease.
Appeal to colleagues: To excel as a nation, our people especially, Medical Laboratory Scientists must make use of the opportunities obtained through Continuous Professional Development Programmes. Out dated knowledge should be dispensed with, and new ones embraced for national health development and quality services. Colleagues must take more active parts in malaria research activities including clinical trials and drug efficacy through work place inter professional and inter agency collaborations. I also request for more of your cooperation for better leadership outcomes.
Appeal to FMOH: The recent adverts on radio on malaria blood testing at pharmacies is viewed by our Association as the height of displaying unregulated task shifting by the FMoH or an error from the Behavioral Change Communication Unit of the Malaria Eradication Programme. The said adverts could promote the spread of blood borne infectious agents from wastes generated in running blood testing for malaria or any other health screening in inappropriate facilities and where quality assurance competencies and capacities are lacking.
Appeal to FGN on the recent Reports of Committee of Experts on harmony in Health Sector: As recently observed by almost all health professionals in the health sector, the recommendations of Yayale Ahmmed’s committee on Harmony in Health Sector is rather sad. It is seen as a wastes of tax payers’ money based on the assaults inflicted on Medical Laboratory Scientists and majority of other professionals in the Health Sector. It is shocking and appalling to note recommendations whereby professional autonomy of Medical Laboratory Scientists and some other health professionals was recommended for scrapping and unnecessary merger of distinct professionals under an unholy merger. This is more that causing irreparable professional disharmony rather the expected harmony in health sector. AMLSN hereby reinstate our earlier positions on the recommendations and corrections forwarded through our letters to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) on the need to avoid irreparable damage to the health sector by throwing away those obnoxious and damaging recommendations by the committee.
Appeal to various political parties: the year 2015 is billed to record monumental achievements socially and politically. Our Association appeals to all political parties to put effective and efficient health system and services in the priority list of their manifestoes. One of the ways of making the masses have a taste of democracy and dividend of having a government in place is provision of affordable, effective and accessible health services to the poor masses. This is why Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is strongly supported by our Association as reflected in the National Health Act 2014. Medical laboratory services and general diagnostic services are usually the most expensive components of healthcare services. AMLSN will appreciate any political party that places emphasis on offering free or highly subsidized laboratory testings for the masses through adequately funded, staffed and equipped Medical lab services as done for TB, Malaria and HIV from US tax payer’s money and philanthropists. The practice where by medical laboratory services and other diagnostic services are outsourced and commercialized by government health facilities in the name of P-P-P is adding to the burden of the poor who are unable to afford the costs of medical lab services. Such masses are seen daily patronizing quacks, traditional healing alternatives and even spiritual homes. Nigeria is well endowed with sufficient resources to provide health as a social service to the masses.
Appreciation/conclusion: On behalf of all members of AMLSN, I appreciate the Malaria Action for States (MAPS), Niger state Government, members of the public and the invitees/ guests for providing resources and the enabling environment that will facilitate successful and memorable activities of our Association in Niger State and nation-wide.
ALH TOYOSI Y RAHEEM – NATIONAL PRESIDENT
(MSc, FMLSCN, FAMLSN, Cert Immunol)