Adebayo Adenrele

The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, (AMLSN) has warned the federal government of Nigeria against privatizing the healthcare services in the country.

The Association made this call in a communique issued at the end of its 58th annual conference and workshop held in Ekiti State and signed by its National President, Prof. James Garba Damen, Secretary, Prof Musa Abidemi Muhibi and National Publicity Secretary, Olusoji Billyrose.

They noted that such tendency would cripple the system and hinders poor Nigerians from accessing quality healthcare.

The body faulted the federal government of allegedly defaulting to comply with 15% yearly financial proposal to fund healthcare services and called on them to increase budgetary allocation to fortify the sector.

The resolutions read in parts, “Conference calls on the Federal Government to jettison its idea of outright privatization of healthcare services, as this would mean commercialization of social services, which citizens have rights to.”

Damen also expressed concern over alleged gross abuse of public funds and brazen disregard for the rule of law by some Chief Medical Directors of public Teaching Hospitals, adding that it create frictions that were affecting the system adversely.

“Some of them(CMDs), who are using government’s treasury to prosecute legal suits in favour of their professional groups up to appellate level while dishonouring court judgements that granted medical laboratory scientists autonomy of practice and headship of Medical Laboratory Service Department”.

On poor funding of the health sector, Damen noted, “Conference calls on the FG to increase the budgetary allocations to the health sector with special emphasis on laboratory infrastructure at the tertiary, secondary and primary levels of health care practice.”

“We noted with concern that Nigeria has never met the 15% total budget benchmark for budgetary allocation to the health sector intended for health system’s strengthening in line with Abuja Declaration”.

As part of their resolutions, the Medical Laboratory Scientists, appealed to the Federal Ministry of Health to support the Medical Laboratory Science Council’s accreditation drive for both private and public laboratories in the country for standardised professionalism.

The professionals also called on Nigerians to key into the Health Insurance Scheme in order to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure, which results into financial catastrophe, and reduced National health coverage.

Damen lamented the spate of brain drain in the health sector due to poor remuneration and working conditions, saying the trend must be checked to save the sector from imminent collapse.

He equally called on the National Assembly to speed up the passage of the enactment of the Teaching Hospitals Reconstitution Bill to fortify the system through well streamlined operational policies for hospital professionals for better efficiency.

“The Bill among other things, seeks to reduce interprofessional rivalry among various players in the healthcare team in the nation’s Teaching Hospital by ensuring that all critical stakeholders are involved in the Constitution of boards.”

“Opponents of the bill are perpetrating that Nigerians should watch in silence and helpless docility as the country’s health rating remains the lowest on the global scale, brazenly overlooking its potential in diversity of health professionals to change the narratives”