RE: EXPERTS WORRY OVER SUPREMACY BATTLE BETWEEN PATHOLOGISTS, LAB. SCIENTISTS 

RE: EXPERTS WORRY OVER SUPREMACY BATTLE BETWEEN PATHOLOGISTS, LAB. SCIENTISTS 
I read with keen interest the article by one AZOMA CHIKWE. The article passes as one of those banalities that often appear on topical issues to muddy the waters the more and this one typically added nothing new positively to the narratives of the discourse between Medical Laboratory Scientists and Pathologists. Yes, it contains some historical facts about the humble origin and evolution of the profession of Medical Laboratory Science as we know today but so what? Every profession has evolved. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. God did not create any profession in His 7 days of creation! No profession was created on day 1 or any day for that matter. Today’s medical doctor evolved from the fads of medieval times that ripped off sick people. Everyone has a past and we Medical Laboratory Scientists are not ashamed of our own. I wonder if some of our doctors ever gave a thought as to why Hippocrates had to institute the oath that all aspiring doctors these days have to take before practice? That doctors had a hand in the creation of Medical Laboratory Scientists is certainly nothing to be too excited about. That was only a necessity and we in humility acknowledge that debt of gratitude to the medical profession but the time to let loose the leash is overdue.

 

By the way how did Pathology evolve? The well-known Scientists of old, Virchow, Pasteur, Koch, Ehrlich e.t.c. were they Pathologists? Let us not be too carried away by our own self-interest. In the practice of medicine today, it is recognized and acknowledged that no one individual would have all the knowledge and skills to handle all the myriads of issues arising from today’s modern lifestyle. So, it would have been necessary to develop other health professions if they did not exist by now. It is indeed these other professional contributions that give essence to the art and science of medicine today. That Medical Laboratory Science has grown so much in its short history is indeed a CREDIT to the great efforts of its founding fathers and those who came after them in nurturing what has now become something of an envy of some members of the health fraternity. But we must realize that this development has been in parallel with advances in medicine, so much so that the roles and expectations of Medical Laboratory Scientists have grown out of all proportion to what would have been achievable in the past. Instead of applauding the growth and contribution of the profession of Medical Laboratory Science to the development of medicine as it is today, these few are in their myopic mind plotting its downfall. It is not a moot fact that 70% of today’s disease conditions can be defined by a laboratory result! These unwearied contributions of the laboratory to decision making by today’s doctors rather than depending on anecdotal and subjective opinion is a glory we all need to bathe in, not disparage.
 We are not unaware of the “rivalry” that exists between family physicians and the Pathologists (are Haematologists, Microbiologists etc. Pathologists too?); even there is a strong argument among eminent doctors that doctors who work in the lab are not clinicians but, we will put all that in the “parking lot”. Perhaps the worry of the lab doctor is this unsubstantiated fear that Medical Laboratory Scientists want to push them out of the laboratory! The origin of this fear is hard to fathom, but this is paranoia of a specie that feels threatened by the fact that it is unable and unwilling to come to terms with development in the work place and face the reality of our times. One would expect the lab doctors, by their training to be more discerning even though we live in a nation agog with rumours and social media frenzy! That the Medical Laboratory Scientists like members of other health professions have grown by dint of hard work to a position whereby they can work shoulder to shoulder with the lab doctor in a non-hierarchical manner and rule their own world (drawing from Glo!) as members of the same team in a non-master/servant relationship may be the worry of some lab doctors.
 
The unfortunate case of Baby Eniola of LUTH in 2016 has been bandied around by lab doctors too often to justify their misplaced claim to headship of the laboratory. Whereas this was indeed the classical case of what happened when they were unable to provide leadership and management in the laboratory and at the same time preventing the right custodians of laboratory matters from taking ownership of their responsibilities (a case of a dog in a manger, you may say). In stating their alternative facts (apologies Kellyanne Conway) they have often failed to indicate that in this particular case that Medical Laboratory Scientists lost their jobs while the lab doctors only walked away with a slap in the wrist.
 

One fact that we have failed to realize or chose to deliberately overlook is that these days, the extreme complexity of laboratory procedures often makes it necessary for the physician to rely on the Pathologist for assistance. The Pathologist performs the role of interpreting and correlating for the physician the results obtained by the Med. Lab. Scientist in order that he may fully utilize them in the treatment of the patient .While it therefore follows that the lab doctors operate at the interphase of the laboratory and the clinic, thus they and the Medical Lab Scientists must work together with the physician as members of a team whose goal at all times is better patient care. There is no doubt that the most effective medical laboratories are where the Medical Laboratory Scientists/Pathologists work in a collaborative environment sharing knowledge, information and utilizing the skill sets of both groups. Frequently, laboratories end up with a combative culture if this opportunity is lost. Unfortunately, this appears to be the case with Nigeria at the moment.
 
In 2006, a highly respected surgeon had circulated a document in which he claimed other health professionals were clamoring for the doctors’ job. This clearly shows the mindset of many doctors in Nigeria which is an indication that they are completely unfamiliar with developments in the workplace around the world. Even though this doctor gentleman later withdrew his claims and apologised for conceiving such ideas, damage had been done and some of his minions still hold to those opinions these days. Tenaciously holding on to the past will not help matters. In England, Nurses with adequate expertise and skills act as Nurse- Practitioners – see patients and write prescriptions. That would almost tantamount to blue murder here in our country. Medical Laboratory Scientists of sufficient bent read and interpret histopathology/cytology slides as Consultants. Should this happen here, some people would become psychiatric. It is time to drop this EGO toga!
 
 Medical Laboratory Scientists remain faithful and ready to engage in conversation with anyone working to build our system. We BELIEVE Pathologists are respected Medical Consultants who rather than ASPIRE to become Medical Laboratory Scientists should look for more rewarding tasks to give them job satisfaction and self actualisation instead of just expecting to supervise the Medical Laboratory Scientists at work and signing laboratory result forms of work carried out by these medical laboratory scientists. No profession can supervise the work of another. This is the reality of the day. The point is, if we cannot change the reality on ground, it becomes necessary that we change the eyes with which we see reality. The world is moving on and our health indices will remain what they are if we do not embrace developments in the health arena. Enough has been said for the wise.
 
Consultant Pathologist Umaru complained about blood touts. That we do not have a National Blood Service in Nigeria today is certainly not the fault of any Medical Laboratory Scientist. For over 5 decades the idea of building a blood service in Nigeria has been on the drawing board. Eminent Nigerians (Chief Emmanuel Iwuayanwu for example) many doctors and medical laboratory scientists have WORKED TIRELESSLY for its actualization over the years. The only evidence for their hard work is that during the period of Prof Eyitayo Lambo (a non-medic) as Hon.Minister of Health and with funding and the kind assistance of the people of USA under PEPFAR, he was able to develop many infrastructure and set up 17 operational centers in the 6 geo-political zones of the country that we have today.
There is a national blood policy that has been denied the necessary translation into law in form of a National Blood Service bill to set up an operational agency free from the red tape of the Civil Service. This is because new Ministers (all Medics and Professors for that matter) believe the NBS will take away the jobs of teaching hospital departments that run an uncoordinated, haphazard service whose safety cannot be guaranteed. Meanwhile Nigeria is signatory to World Health Assembly resolution No WHA2872 of 1975 which advocated a centrally coordinated national blood service. The NBS in England is one of the essential components of the NHS. Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria are nowhere comparable to those in England. Blood would have been available for President Mohammadu Buhari should he have needed it in England. He wouldn’t have had to mobilize tout donors as we often do here before he could access safe blood. It could happen here too if only “the powers that be” would allow it. In the meantime, Nigerian experts have worked with WHO in developing thriving blood services even in tiny countries like the Seychelles! This is the tragedy of our country and some people would like us to continue in this manner. The solution is for members of the medical profession to accept that it’s a different world we live in now. These are exponential times and lamentations no matter how genuine would not help matters.
 There are clear differences in the roles and responsibilities of the MLS and Pathologists but both must work together for improved patient care. There must be mutual respect and recognition that will enable them build strong work ethics and develop a new order of a more efficient medical laboratory eco system. As baseball enthusiasts are wont to say it’s time to “call a big time out”.

 Paraphrasing the words of Martin LUTHER KING Jnr. The time has come when the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will sit down together at the table of brotherhood. Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win.

 

Godwin IHIMEKPEN,

Ihimekpen1949@yahoo.com
P.S.
Reading this rejoinder reminded me of the photo I took recently in Bodija, Ibadan –  of a lovely flower blooming in a bed of green …

We are all different, but in our diversity lies our collective let us embrace it. Meanwhile, who here is an horticulture afficionado? What is the name of this beautiful pink bloom?

Of Wasted opportunities and historical monuments…

Of Wasted opportunities… Historical monuments…
Many friends have asked me, “what exactly is so special about Abeokuta? ”
To that question, there is no simple answer.

As an Abeokuta born lady who sees more beauty in the historic rock city, you could actually say I m biased and you would be right.
Sadly, a lot of the beauty I see is wasted…
Many historical monuments in Abeokuta are not getting the necessary media and government attention.
I even heard that the government demolished or wanted to demolish more of the historical monuments in Ogun state. Apparently public outcry saved the day.
Take for instance this “Centenary Hall” built in 1930…

Centenary Hall by Adesanya Adeniran of AcePixels.

Today, the hall is little more than a relic…

Lacking any state support or governmental presence, it has become a halfway home for whoever wants to take a break from the heat of the midday sun.
Yet, this historical monument still has a lot of potential.

It is right in the centre of town, almost directly opposite the Ake palace… Just a five minute walk from the first church in West Africa… Rich history right?

Photo credits : Adesanya Adeniran (AcePixels).

Centenary Hall, Abeokuta by Adesanya Adeniran

With the gallery view from the first floor, methinks this hall would be very useful for stage artists still honing their craft to display their budding talent…
Win win as people get free or cheap entertainment while the artistes build their repertoire.
Or don’t you agree?
Still on the matter, do we have any art patrons in Ogun state… ?
Saw some old paintings in the Centenary hall. I m wondering if they have any value?
Do take another look at the hall … What do you think?  Is this a wasted opportunity?

Heart Cry … Old Poems

Heart Cry

Nigeria at 43, evokes a flood of sadness.

The euphoria generated at independence,

lost forever in the memory of the old,

replaced by anguished reality in the young.

None of the tocsin has been heeded…

Augurs foretell,preachers speak,

but, Nigeria is dumb and deaf,

bedridden with symptoms of acute sickness.

Corruption, Indiscipline, Anarchy, Poverty and Crime are prevalent.

The high class citizens love seeing the hoi-polloi.

All that lip service to poverty eradication,

just a fantasy lived only in their dreams and shared with the people.

They give the masses scholarships to the decrepit and broken down Universities,

while non-payment of salaries and fringe benefits to teachers results in months of strikes;

leading to closure of institutions across the country.

But, their own children enjoy full scholarships to Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford et al.

They return stripped of all veneer of empathy they might have had towards the poor;

purposely to follow their parents’ laid down paths,

of oppression, neo-colonialism and nepotism.

Those in government who want to make a change,

hemmed in, hedged out,

in short, frustrated and disillusioned,

they either join them or leave them.

Hmm… Nigeria.nigeria2

At 43, Africa the motherland cries for you,

because you are just a whitewashed sepulchre,

tarted outside, full of decay and rot inside.

Justice is not to be found in thee.

Assaying to rise, you can not even crawl; let alone walk.

Infrastructure; at low provision,

Health facilities rare and when present…

Not maintained or even obsolete.

Road network, full of potholes; death-traps for ignorant travellers

Uncountable eminent lives lost to blood sucking roads.

Ah Nigeria… Are you not ashamed?

Giant only in name, dwarf in deed.

Is it Sports, Science, Health field or even in Technical advances?

You are moribund; decay and purulence pervades every facet of your life.

Gone are the days of cornucopia,

the oil boom of the 1970’s, opened this new chapter of paralysis,

with more and more money ,

came corruption, greediness and selfishness.

The end result; this prostate state.

Nigeria! Nigeria!! Nigeria!!! awake from your slumber.

Arise from your sick bed.

Let the waters of salvation cleanse you.

Restoration cometh, says the LORD…

Abimbola Onaoluwa 2003

nigeria

 

 

I wrote this in 2003. This is 2016 and it feels like not much has changed… any changes at all appear negative. I really want to cling to hope… trust in the unchanging nature of life’s renewal…

Who do I report this to? Ecological Disaster in the making.

Ecological wahala is loading in this community. While coming back from an outreach visit to Fadage – the #UHC4AllNigerians One Community at a Time Project Phase 1 community; I observed this terrible evidence that we are sometimes the reasons for some of the environmental challenges we face.

Go through the photographs. Houses were built ridiculously close to a river.

Some of the houses already show evidence of cracking in the walls – probably from the onslaught of the water.

It appears a new house is under construction; which will block the natural path of the river. Of course, the river will find another way around , but when the volume of water increases… What happens?

Say hello to floods; huge destructive floods that we now most conveniently label “an act of God” carelessly forgetting our heavy contributions to the process.

So, I am asking again, who do I report these to? Does the government have any control over the protection of our environment anymore?

 

 

Eku Chronicles 2

Eku Politics

 

Politics in Eku is largely like it is in every other community. There are dirty deals that ensure that the most popular candidate may not often get the nod for party representation and of course there are the godfathers. The ever present godfathers of Nigerian politics – unfit for political contests but totally deciding who won.

 

Like in the larger society, here too the politicians called the shots; their majestic houses comparable with the finest of houses in Maitama while not quite 10 minutes from their posh marble terrace houses lived some of the poorest in houses that could at best be described as shacks- low slung structures built disgustingly close with paths for roads and outhouses for toilets. Almost impossible to believe that the photos in this post are of houses in the same community less than 10- 15 minutes from the each other? Believe it, all of these photos are of houses in Eku.

The traditional council was an enigma indeed. Men, mostly old and provincial in look wearing flowing wrappers sat round a large hall and deliberated on matters of state. The town hall; a spanking new building built in the latest fashion complete with marble tiles, interlocking stone pavements and  the understated elegance of the latest modern architecture found in faraway Lagos – spoke of a traditional council that still wielded much power and influence.

The majestic Eku town hall at night

Eku town hall

So, it was a real letdown to hear the oldest chief, the Ogisi defer a matter that would ordinarily be called trivial – to the desk of the female Local Government Chairman who was ironically on leave outside the country.

 

Elections had just been concluded at the time I resumed duty and the stench of the rivalry and the quarrels that usually mark Nigerian elections was still very strong. Apparently, for a position that the community had been required to produce one candidate, they had presented two ; from different political parties – both sworn enemies and long time rivals. No one agreed to step down for the other and at the end it cost the community the slot that would have been theirs at the legislature. Their votes were divided along party loyalty lines; family ties and even church affiliations.

 

I doubt though that any lessons were learned as it appeared that the second man from the less popular party had intentionally been fielded to defeat the other aspirant. Community good did not win and it is doubtful that any good came out of the entire political season.

 

When the Presidential elections rolled round, I was suitably shocked that many in this small town had no support for their South South Brother. They were simply indifferent. Along with the dashed expectations of expecting a rain of money reminiscent of the Odili glory days, many felt that GEJ had deliberately ignored them while spending more money on other regions of Nigeria. It was not uncommon to hear glib denouements like “when we asked him to give us money for the elections runs, he refused and said he had no money” or “ who he help?” “he no try for us at all – Obasanjo sef better pass am”.

 

Up until that time I had been quite passive about the politics playing out in the larger society ; on the National stage. But, hearing these negative reports of a man reported to be stingy and not parochial convinced me of the need to do more research and learn more about the then incumbent President.

 

It was thus the keen interest in politics in this small town – often called a village; that thus spurred me to take active interest. From animated discussions in the hospital lobby, to discussions at the hairdresser or even in front of the hospital gates at the mini supermarket like row of stalls selling everything from assorted wines and snacks to local fruits and even food; came the clear voice of the Eku townspeople, they had expected more from their man and since he had not delivered, he was on his own. Ironically, my newfound interest led me to different conclusions; maybe because my evaluations were not based on stomach infrastructure or the evidence of the personal gains I had gotten from the administration.

 

On election day, it was quite calm – many stayed home and the few who ventured out did not make too much of an effort… Few stayed behind to monitor the votes or to ensure that their candidate won.

 

It is a sad testimony of how Nigerians allowed the  rot in our political sphere to grow unchecked. For Eku politics is but a microcosm of the larger Nigerian Politics.

Eku Chronicles 1

So, yesterday while looking for a document, I found these scribbles of mine about Eku –   Delta state- the sleepy town where I stayed till January this year.

Read on …

Eku Chronicles

At first sight Eku appeared to be a bubbling active town. Sadly, that was a false impression. The first needle in that optimistic bubble was the response to my query about where I could find a bank or an ATM… ” No, Eku does not have a bank or an ATM” was the shocking response. I could not believe my ears… This was a town that had hosted European missionaries of the Baptist denomination for more than fifty years, a town that could boast of a primary school as far back as 1924 and was home to an hospital that recently got a 2 Billion (is it Naira or Dollars renovation by the Delta state government. No ATM? In 2015? I am sure you can tell that I am still shocked.

 

It was a market day on that Thursday and the market was filled to the brim. The hustle and bustle of the market even spilled over to the junction where I got a bike to take me to my first port of call. Inside the town was eerily quiet though on the two lane undivided tarred road that crisscrossed the town like a meandering river. No blaring music, but the sound of mechanical grinders provided a jarring alternative.

 

Alighting from the cab that brought me into town from Abraka, I had barely gotten a good look at the town as I was on a timed assignment. So while I took in sips of the town from the passenger seat of a ‘flying bike’; I knew my explorations of the town would come much later.

 

Mission accomplished- message delivered, feedback gotten and marching orders received, I went immediately to my assigned office where I promptly fell in love… Loved the facilities, the ambience, the warm reception from the substantive Head and the real  Head of Department and from that moment I knew without a doubt that coming to Eku had been ‘an arranged job’. I could only say “thank you, Father” as the HOD assured me that should I wish to move into the quarters that would be assigned to me that day, he would sort it out without delay. I opted for Monday so I could go back to Asaba as I had only the clothes on my back on this visit.

 

My very affable HOD offered to drive me back to the Eku junction park when it was time to go back but eventually drove all the way to Abraka as there was no vehicle loading as at the time I got to the junction.

 

Settling in…

 

Even though I am yet to go to the Eku main market, I am fully back to Eku. My resumption on the Monday had been for a five day stay after which I travelled to Abeokuta to return fully five days later on a Wednesday-though this later changed to Thursday (the reason for that is not gist for these pages).

 

Eku is blessed with rain. An early morning rain has just bathed the land and I can look with fresh eyes at the beauty of the town . So while on a bike headed to the junction to make my way to Abraka, I notice a small shop tucked into a brown low hanging roof bungalow with a sign which reads XYZ microfinance bank… Then, I am amazed not only at the shabby exterior but also it’s outrightly despairing look. It succeeded in removing some of the shine off that beautiful morning. An equally gloomy looking police post was not far from it.

 

My amateur P.I. skills had at least yielded one vital piece of info: the town’s lack of a Divisional Police Headquarters was responsible for the absence of banks and ATMs. An attempt to bring an ATM inside the hospital had failed because of this major reason. The fears of guntotting men of the underworld is I suppose the beginning of wisdom for 21st century Nigerian banks.

 

Keep a date with this page to follow the rest of my adventures in Eku. Just click the “follow” buton