We want to first and foremost thank Mr President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Nigeria for the relative gains made in the areas of infrastructure and security. We believe that it is the genuine intention of Mr President to bequeath a better health sector than he met it and we are ready to offer useful suggestions, feedback and agitations towards this end.
Healthcare Financing in Nigeria
NEC observed with dismay the continuous underfunding of the health sector in Nigeria as reflected in paltry budgetary allocation spanning about two decades now. Nigeria’s health budget has continued to fall short of the recommendations of the Abuja Declaration by the African Union. It would be recalled that African heads of states met in Abuja in 2001 to review the health system in the region and were blown apart by the deficit in infrastructure, training and technological assimilation in the system. To address this, they declared that member nations were to forthwith commit not less than 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector. Unfortunately, Nigeria has continued to falter with health budgets oscillating between 5-8% of the total budget. NEC therefore, charges the exiting and incoming governments to change the status quo.
Emergency Response Preparedness
NEC calls on governments at all levels to pay special attention to public health emergencies, non-communicable diseases, sanitation, cancer awareness, procurement of laboratory, medical and dental infrastructure. The recently reported Lassa fever cases in Irrua Specialist Hospital is again, a sad reminder that we are not yet out of the woods.
NEC calls on the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Bill for an Act to amend the University Teaching Hospitals (Reconstitution of Boards etc) Act Cap U15 LFN 2004” sponsored by one Honourable Bamidele Salami. It is the believe of NEC and Nigerians as a whole that when passed, the bill will address all discriminatory tendencies, promote all inclusiveness, help Nigeria’s healthcare delivery thrive positively, benefit the average Nigerian patients instead of a professional group, improve the poor infrastructure that currently define our Tertiary Hospitals, mitigate improve skilled manpower shortage caused by brain drain, and enhance more participation as more professionals will have a better enabling environment to train and practice.
MLS Curriculum and Standard
AMLSN as a major stakeholder in MLS education calls on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to provide a minimum of 4 months for holistic review of the B.MLS curriculum in the recently released Core Curriculum and Minimum Accreditation Standard (CCMAS) for universities. The gaps and errors identified in the B.MLS curriculum areso pronounced that the 30% window can not address. While the efforts of NUC is appreciated, the NEC believes the curriculum must be robust enough to reflect the dynamism in Medical Laboratory practice and evolution; within the medical laboratory diagnostic ecosystem, so that our graduates can remain globally marketable. We also want to call on all private and public laboratories to key into Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) accreditation programs for laboratories across the country.
For the umpteenth time, NEC frowns at thriving tendencies of medical tourism by Nigerians, especially the political class. It has been estimated that Nigeria spends about N664bn yearly on medical tourism, this is indeed a huge loss of foreign exchange and a drain on the country’s foreign reserves. These amounts, when invested in the Nigeria health sector, will not only make it competitive to world class hospitals but make Nigeria a health tourism destination since most of the so-called world class hospitals in developed countries are manned by Nigerian health professionals. Consequently, we call on the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry, to provide financial support, through special intervention funds for private sector investment for healthcare delivery and especially the building of mega and high tech medical laboratories that can be globally competitive both in technology and test spectrum.
NEC observed with sadness the continuous human capital flight that has escalated to an alarming proportion. In 2022 alone the nation lost about 906 medical laboratory scientists to human capital flight. The reasons for brain drain may include: poor leadership of the health sector, corruption, poor remuneration and toxic work environment. We therefore, call on government to address these concerns as a futuristic remedy for the malady.
2023 National Election:
NEC acknowledged that Nigerians are going to the polls in a matter of weeks to elect new leaders. NEC therefore encouraged Nigerians and indeed her members to participate actively in the process as responsible citizen by voting for credible candidates with proven track records, capacity and impeccable credentials. So far, we have perused through the healthcare agenda of manifestoes of the leading candidates in the elections and we are concerned that some are lacking in depth, scope and strategy. We hereby call on the candidates to reassess the situation on ground and enrich their healthcare agenda for the nation
Prof. James G. Damen Prof. Musa A. Muhibi Mr. Olusoji A. Billyrose
National President National Secretary National Publicity Secretary