The 52nd Annual Scientific Conference and Workshop of The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) tagged “Wonders of Nature”; held at the Jolly Nyame Sports Complex, Jalingo, Taraba Stateon on 2nd to 8th October, 2016.
The Conference & Workshop was chaired by the Co-chairman Hon. (Barr) Istifanus. D. Gyang representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency, Federal House of Representatives who represented the Chairman Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (Leader, Federal House of Representatives).
The Conference &Workshop was declared opened by the Executive Governor of Taraba State – His Excellency Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Taraba State. With the support of the First Lady of Taraba State, her Excellency – Barr. Anna Darius Dickson Ishaku, the Hon. Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole who was ably represented by Dr Ramatu Hassan – National Coordinator, National Cancer Control Program, Federal Ministry of Health and many other distinguished dignitaries.
Prof. Merycelin Baba, a Professor of Medical Virology with the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Maiduguri, delivered the Keynote address on the conference theme which was ” Tumour Micro-Environments: Basic and Advanced Strategies for Quality Health Services.”
At the end of the Conference & Workshop, the following observations and recommendations were made:
Fight against corruption and insecurity: Conference commended the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria- President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for the giant strides made in repositioning Nigeria as shown by the wholesome fight against corruption and insecurity in the country. We hope that the gains would bring about change in all sectors of the Nigerian economy soonest.
Current economic recession in the country: Conference expressed worry on the current economic recession in the country but optimistic that the recession would soon be overcome in view of the bold steps that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is taking to improve the economy. Conference however advised Nigerians to use public and private funds judiciously and urged the FGN to intensify efforts on her economic diversification policy.
The need to step-up research on tumour micro-environments: In view of the growing threat of epidemics posed by tumours and tumour-related diseases worldwide, conference acknowledged that scientific research on tumour micro-environments must significantly be stepped up through inter professional collaborations.
The need to integrate Medical Laboratory Scientists in the Programmes of Federal Ministry of health: Conference called on the Minister for Health to integrate Medical Laboratory Scientists into the Rapid Results Initiatives (RRI) and the Save One Million Lives Initiative of the Hon. Minister of Health in order to achieve effective and desirable outcomes for such programmes. It will also prevent wastage of the scarce resources of the country through the use of lesser qualified, inappropriate professionals for laboratory screening or testing of the people as envisaged by FMoH under the said programme.
Unregulated use and overuse of chemicals by farmers on the farms: Conference observed that the indiscriminate and unregulated use or over-use of herbicides (in place of the traditional hoes and cutlasses on the farm) and insecticides could be a possible contributory factor to the development of tumours and tumour-related diseases. The conference thus advised that appropriate regulatory agencies should look into the unregulated use of those chemicals to prevent the long term harmful consequences in/on humans.
Tumour markers as diagnostic tests: Conference agreed that tumour markers are essential medical laboratory tests for early and rapid detection and management of patients with suspected cases of tumours or tumour-related diseases.
Conference maintained that adequate knowledge of patient’s micro-environments is essential for effective management of cancer cases as against the usual practice of general radiotherapy which often inadvertently causes more cell damage especially in cases of tumours that are resistant to radiotherapy.
Contribution of diets to development of health challenges: Conference noted that the shift from the consumption of natural to ‘junk foods’, increased industrialization and lack of regular physical exercise could be predisposing factors to development of tumours and other heath challenges.
Infrastructural deficit for routine and specialized testing in health laboratories: Conference berated the infrastructural deficit hampering routine diagnosis of histopathological samples in most of the public and private medical laboratories in Nigeria. The conference recommended that FGN need to upgrade medical laboratories in all public hospitals, clinics and PHCs in view of the report that 100,000 new cases of cancer are recorded annually with over 2 million already recorded.
Pivotal Role of Medical Laboratory Scientists: Conference noted the pivotal role of medical laboratory scientists in the Nigerian Health System, stating emphatically that “medical diagnoses and prescriptions most often, are dependent and contingent on the standard of medical laboratories and diagnostic competences of the Medical Laboratory Scientists”
Commendation to Taraba State Government: Conference commended Taraba State government for providing the enabling environment for hosting this year’s conference. Conference noted the great assistance given to students studying Medical Laboratory Science in the state, and also called on the state government to employ more Medical Laboratory Scientists into the state health service as well as upgrade medical laboratories in the state.
Commendation to Federal Government: Conference commended the Federal Government of Nigeria on the establishment of the National Cancer Centre and the National Cancer Control Program, and called on her to fully equip the Centre and the programme with adequate human and infrastructural resources to promote early screening, confirmation, management of tumours, and other health challenges so as to combat late diagnosis/detection of cancer.
Concern on deplorable condition of roads in Nigeria: Conference expressed deep concern on the deplorable state of roads in Nigeria and noted the appalling road leading to Taraba State from different parts of Nigeria; and called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to give priority attention to the rehabilitation of roads in Nigeria to reduce avoidable deaths during emergency medical referrals.
Non-compliance with the implementation of circulars and scheme of service, extant laws etc: Conference observed with serious concern, the indiscriminate use of public offices by some CEOs of federal and state health facilities, to oppress and suppress other health professionals in Nigeria. These were manifested by the consistent and deliberate misinterpretation of government circulars and extant laws by some CEOs of health institutions. Conference observed that the trend could further escalate workplace inter-professional disharmony, dampen the morale of health professionals and reduce the productivity of the affected health professionals. For example, the Conference frowned at the non-compliance with the implementation of circular on Enhanced Entry Point for Medical Laboratory Scientists by some Chief Medical Directors/Directors in some hospitals and other institutions, whereas such CMDs/MDs were quick to implement similar circulars for their own colleagues.
Universal Health Coverage: Conference berated the delay by the Federal Government in stepping-up Universal Health Coverage as well as delay in the implementation of the statutory provisions of the 2014 National Health Act which prescribes a minimum of 1 % of the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue as Basic Health Care Fund. Sadly, Nigeria has never met the 15% total budget bench mark for budgetary allocation to the health sector intended for health systems strengthening in line with Abuja (2001) convention. Conference noted with dismay, the tradition of dwindling budgetary allocations to the health sector continued with the 2016 National Budgetary allocations to health.
Implementation of the National Health Act 2014: Conference called on Federal Government to ensure the full implementation of the 2014 National Health Act which aims at improving the quality of health services in Nigeria. Conference urged FGN to give priority attention and funding to the purchase of medical laboratory equipment and commodities which are essential ingredients for Nigeria’s attainment of Universal Health Coverage goals.
Demand for Creation of Directorate of Medical Laboratory Services at the Federal and State Ministry of Health: Conference was surprised to observe that the call for the establishment of the Directorate of Medical Laboratory Services is yet to be implemented in the Federal Ministry of Health as recommended in the Nigerian National Medical Laboratory Policy since 2007. Conference commended Taraba State and all other states in Nigeria that have implemented the policy.
Encroachment on the professional duties and responsibilities of Medical Laboratory Scientists: Conference stoutly resisted the attempt by a certain professional group in the health sector that are daily encroaching on the professional duties and responsibilities prescribed for Medical Laboratory Scientist as contained in the Scheme of Service, Medical Laboratory Science Council Act 11, 2003 and other statutes while appealing to the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment, Ministry of Justice and the Presidency to ensure equity, justice and fairness by not hesitating to call any erring health professional group to order in the interest of peace and harmony in the health sector.
Request for removal of the suspension of inspection and monitoring exercise by MLSCN: Conference decried the continuous suspension of inspection and monitoring activities of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) as directed by FMOH. Conference observed that the health of Nigerians are at huge risk as quacks are now back to their harmful duties in both public and private medical laboratories in Nigeria. Conference noted with delight, the address delivered by the Minister of Health at the Opening Ceremony of the conference especially his wish for quality laboratory services in Nigeria.
Conference therefore urgently called on the Minister of Health to remove the suspension placed on inspection and monitoring activities of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN). This is highly needed especially now that medical laboratories need to be sanitized and prepared towards accreditation in line with global best practices.
Compliance with Court Judgments: Conference called on the Federal Government to implement all pending court judgments delivered in favour of Medical Laboratory Scientists by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria NICN in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Conference appealed to the FGN to avoid anarchy in the Health sector which could arise as a result of non-adherence to the rule of law more so that when there has never been a stay of execution on any of the judgements.
Re-Constitution of the Governing Boards of Health Regulatory Bodies: Conference observed with dismay the delay in re-constitution of the Governing Board of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria and other boards of Health Regulatory Bodies. Conference called on the federal government to consider urgent reconstitution of the Governing Boards of all Health Regulatory Agencies in order to further promote quality of health professional services by the various health regulatory agencies in line with the change mantra of the Federal Government.
Security of lives and Properties: Conference expressed sadness on the gruesome murder of the immediate past Ag. Registrar of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, Mrs Olufunke Folashade Omotuyi who was gruesomely killed at her Asokoro residence in Abuja on June 8, 2016. Conference appealed to FGN to intensify efforts on fishing out the perpetrators of the killing so as not to continue to scare away health professionals in diaspora, and other investors from Nigeria.
Need to continue to comply with Professionals Ethics: Conference appealed to all Medical Laboratory Scientists in Nigeria to continue to be Ethical in all the professional activities. Conference also challenged Medical Laboratory Scientists in Nigeria to continue to give best professional services as well as diligence to ethics, professionalism and sustainable resource management at all times. While also realising that the current economic recession gives no room for wastages, losses or leakages of funds, either willfully or accidentally.
Conclusion: AMLSN appreciates His Excellency the Governor of Taraba State, Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku the First Lady of Taraba State Her Excellency Mrs Anna Ishaku, Honourable Commissioner for Health Taraba State, Commissioner for Youth and Sports, the Royal fathers from Taraba State, Government and the people of Taraba State for their hospitality and excellent support through-out the Conference/Workshop. We also commend the Taraba State branch of our association and all the participants at the Conference/Workshop all of which contributed to the huge success recorded at the end of the Conference/Workshop.
To God be the glory!
Alh Toyosi Y Raheem Dr Surajudeen Junaid Tam Adeyeye
National President National Secretary National PRO