I am a Medical Laboratory Scientist and a large percentage of my current workday routine is steaming with the excitement, the politics , peculiar experiences and occasional drudgery of the Medical Laboratory Profession.
On my recent trip to Asaba, I met three amazing women who have made their marks in the Nigerian Medical Laboratory Science family.
Their interviews will come up shortly, but first… Check out this piece written by MLS Chinwe Azuka and Bernard Solomon, the sage himself….
*Firstborn Mentality And Poor Health Indices In Nigeria*
A dangerous trend has been playing out in the Nigerian health sector whereby the Nigerian physicians play god over other health professionals including the public! Whereas, the developed nations are consolidating on a strong health system through Medical Laboratory Strengthening, the opposite is the case in Nigeria.
All health professions had a humble beginning. Medicine for instance, started as a Diploma program at Yaba Tech in Nigeria. Medical Laboratory Science also had similar humble beginning. Over the years, the practitioners have developed these disciplines which have now been fully professionalised. Professions are birthed by public demand and not by the whims and caprices or innuendos of an earlier profession.
The truth is no organization is immune to the virus of entitlement. However, when we replace a sense of service with a sense of undue entitlement we quickly see the demise of good working relationships, the society and economy suffers for it. There is a fine line between entitlement and being obnoxious. The news media is awash with moves by the Ministry of Health led by a Physician to thwart the regulatory function of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN). This is an abuse of public office!
Medical Laboratory Scientists in Nigeria are peace loving. They had sought justice at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria to rest the needless controversies over who controls the Medical Laboratories. The learned Justice had declared that MLS is a distinct profession and should be allowed to practice unhindered. Currently, the powers that be in the health sector are resisting this court pronouncement. Would that be allowed to remain for long? Days are counting as the authorities have been given 30 days to do what is necessary or go to jail. Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable!
Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result is tantamount to insanity! The current health system in Nigeria is skewed to massage the ego of the physician and not to serve the Nigerian public. This is contrary to the World Health Organization (WHO) standard where the patient is at the centre while the health team work for the patients’ interest. It is no longer strange to hear that WHO currently ranks Nigeria’s health system 187 out of 193 countries! This is a country that was ranked 4th in the whole of British Commonwealth as at 1984. According to the recent WHO ranking, countries at war rank better than Nigeria. Interestingly, high ranking countries have a strong medical laboratory system. No wonder rich Nigerians and government functionaries continue to go abroad for medical tourism causing huge foreign exchange losses to the country.
The first born mentality is a delusion built on self centeredness and laziness and it has ruined Nigeria’s health system. This is the time to allow professionalism to reign. This is what Medical Laboratory Scientists stand for in Nigeria. The Judiciary has also thrown its weight behind this. The Minister of Health has been ordered to tow this line. Doing otherwise amounts to rebellion against the law.
Mr. Tony Iredia was a former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). This great citizen of Nigeria, who was also a former director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) was moved by concern for the crisis in the health sector especially the impasse between Pathologists and Medical Laboratory Scientists. In the widely circulated article published by the guardian newspaper some years ago, he counselled the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Medical Practitioners to live and let others live.
Is that so difficult ?
*BENARD SOLOMON; CHINWE AZUKA:* Public Affairs Analysts.