30 October 2012

Nigeria: Lab Scientists Warn Against Outsourcing Core Health Services

The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) has cautioned the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) over a proposal to outsource core hospital business.

The association, which was reacting to recent advertorials by the Federal Ministry of Health seeking bids for provision of certain services in Federal Government hospitals, said such a move would promote corruption and selfish manipulation of the hospital facilities and inflate the prices for the provision of health services.

The National President of the Association, Dr. Godswill Okara, while addressing a meeting with the members of the association in Abuja, where he listed core hospital business to include clinical services, nursing services, laboratory services and pharmaceutical service.

In a copy of his address which was made available to THISDAY, Okara quoted media reports where the NMA had allegedly called for outsourcing of Laboratory Services, Pharmacy, Radiography, Physiotherapy, Catering and Laundry as a means to reduce tension and crises in the health sector.

Okara said: "Is it not a gradual preparation for the obituary announcement of the public health sector in Nigeria? For want of what to do in our hospitals, you see doctors clamouring to be appointed to oversee security services, engineering services (Energy), and every imaginable area of the hospital. When those professionals trained and licensed under the law to provide services in those areas call for adherence to government rules and scheme of service, they threaten hell and brimstone."

In the address titled: "Gambling with the Nigerian Health Sector", Okara alleged that the Ministry of Health has refused to allow some stakeholders make input to the National Health Bill noting that the bill which has undergone first reading in the National assembly still contains 'offending' clauses and sections that seek to usurp the functions and powers of the various professional regulatory bodies in the health sector.

"Laboratory investigations play a major role in preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and referral services at all levels of health care delivery. The lack of laboratory policy for Nigeria has created defects in the services which have led to wrong diagnosis and wastages of limited financial resources" he added.

Meanwhile, the association also warned the management of Irrua Specialist hospital in Edo State against what it described as arbitrary suspension and harassment of its members.

Okara in a statement issued in Abuja, appealed to the management of the hospital to respect the statutory scheme of service of medical laboratory scientists and laws of Nigeria.

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