The 59th Annual Scientific Conference and Workshop of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) tagged, “Capital City 2023”, held at International Conference Centre, FCT, Abuja.
The Conference and Workshop was chaired by Distinguished Senator Diket Plang, Chairman Senate committee on Labour and Employment and Deputy Chairman Senate committee on TETFund, National Assembly, Abuja who formally declared the conference open.
The Special Guest of Honour was the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR.
Professor Teddy Charles Adias, a Professor of Haematology and Blood Transfusion Science, and Vice Chancellor at the Federal University Otuoke of Bayelsa state, delivered the Keynote address on the conference with the theme: Universal Health Coverage: The Medical Laboratory Priority in Nigeria.
The sub-themes covered by the conference included:
1. Expanding Access to Quality Diagnostic Services in Nigeria through integrated Diseases Testing.
2. Leveraging on National Health Insurance Program for Sustainable Medical Laboratory Systems for Improved Access to Quality Diagnostics.
3. Strategic Human Resource Development for Medical Laboratory for Equitable Access to Quality Diagnostics at all Level of Care.
4. Medical Laboratory Systems Strengthening for Early Disease Detection and Pandemic Preparedness.
5. Artificial Intelligence and Quality Medical Laboratory Services: (Opportunities and Challenges)
6. Local Diagnostics Manufacturing for Equitable Access to Quality Medical Laboratory services in Nigeria.
Conference calls on the government to launch targeted awareness campaigns to educate communities about the significance of Universal Health Coverage. With less than seven years to attain the target set for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC 2030), Nigeria needs a radical and transformative approach to health manpower development to guarantee adequate access to skilled care, eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, and strengthen health systems resiliency to health security shocks and emergencies. A radical approach to addressing health manpower production, albeit capital intensive, would ensure that Nigeria not only significantly closes existing health manpower shortfalls and the progress gaps towards the UHC goals but also secures sustainable productivity for long-term economic growth and prosperity.
Conference calls on individuals to actively participate in community health initiatives, awareness campaigns, and support for public health policies that will contribute to the overall success of Universal Health Coverage at the grassroots’ level.
Conference implored stakeholders, individuals, community members, partners, and policymakers to join this noble course in ensuring that healthcare services are accessible to all timely and effectively. In the same token, the conference commends and applauds lawmakers advocating for policies that promote health care accessibility, affordability, and quality, fostering an environment to achieve Universal Health Coverage
Conference assured the government of the readiness of Medical Laboratory Scientists to continually improve on their skills and be updated with the latest changes, trends, and techniques so as to ensure the health sector in Nigeria is not lagging behind in quality healthcare services.
The Conference urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider efforts to expand the health workforce spectrum to involve technical workers in other sectors and disciplines having a bearing on health, as originally envisaged in the National Health Policy of 1988: This could involve the integration of tailored top-up credit programmes in competency areas relevant to critical Primary Health Care service delivery, including the intentional creation of professional and career advancement opportunities in the core health workforce over time.
Conference also urged the federal government to leverage technology-assisted education and training modalities, along with established online curricula in collaboration with health training institutions, to rapidly scale up production, including incentives to public and private health facilities to establish and expand preceptorship opportunities for trainees under a national preceptorship programme.
Conference observed that nations cannot effectively fight off pandemics if they relegate in-country research and development efforts and depend on the importation of all diagnostic inputs. To this end, the conference resolved that medical and research laboratories must be rightly positioned to begin in-country production of diagnostic test kits, vaccines, and therapeutics if we are to make progress in combating diseases, instead of relying on importation, which is usually challenged by global demand, travel restrictions, and antigenic mismatches.
Conference showed deep concern for the state of federal roads, medical infrastructure, and healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas, which is unequivocally hindering timely and adequate access to quality Healthcare services, thereby militating against the targeted Universal Health coverage.
The meeting assured Nigerians and the Nigerian Government that, as Medical Laboratory Scientists who are skilled in knowledge and techniques of vaccine production, we are ready to start the development and production of indigenous vaccines against the novel SARS-CoV-2 and indeed all other infectious diseases. All we need is adequate funding and necessary Laboratory infrastructure.
The meeting urged the Federal Government to revitalise the Medical Laboratory System in the country in order to promote health security in the country. The government needs to strengthen the technology in the country’s Medical Laboratory Services as a prerequisite for continuous and improved productivity in the medical laboratories. New technologies, new diseases, and disease strains continue to drive the need for improved technology. Changes in the world, such as bioterrorism and the speed with which diseases spread globally, drive the need for Medical Laboratory Services to be upgraded and given serious attention. Medical Laboratory Scientists are indispensable partners in providing patient care and making direct improvements in the lives of patients, the maintenance of the public’s health, and the effectiveness of individual health care providers. There cannot be a robust health care system when there are dysfunctional and reprobate medical laboratory services in the country.
The meeting called on the Federal Government to inaugurate the Health Sector National Reform Committee in order to enable the committee to expedite action on its agenda of principally developing the implementation of a Health Sector Reform Programme for Nigeria in collaboration with the State governments.