STOP MEDICAL TOURISM NOW- MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS ADVISE FGN

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STOP MEDICAL TOURISM NOW- MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS ADVISE FGN

The just concluded 206th National Executive Council Meeting of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) was a forum where the Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) from different parts of the country and abroad gathered to deliberate on the progress of the profession.
The effects of Medical tourism gave the members of the Association a course to be concerned about. According to the communique released after the meeting, N664 Billion is spent yearly on medical tourism. They advised the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to invest in the health sector if this trend is to be reversed.

The communique as represented below was signed by the President, Prof James Garba Damen and the Secretary General, Prof Muhibi Musa and the National Publicity Secretary,Soji Billyrose

AMLSN COMMUNIQUE PRESENTED AT THE END OF 206TH NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING, HELD ON THE 14TH JANUARY, 2023 AT VINPY EVENT CENTER, UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE
Protocol!
We want to first and foremost thank Mr President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria for the relative gains made in the areas of security and infrastructure-Niger Delta Bridge is a palpable example. We believe that it is the genuine intention of Mr President to bequeath a better health sector than he met it and we are ready to offer useful suggestions, feedbacks and inputs towards this end.

OBSERVATIONS/SUGGESTIONS
Healthcare Financing in Nigeria
NEC observed with dismay the continuous underfunding of the health sector in Nigeria as reflected in paltry budgetary allocation spanning about two decades now. Nigeria health budget has continued to fall short of the recommendation of the Abuja Declaration by the African Union. It would be recalled that African heads of states met in Abuja in 2001 to review the health system in the region and were blown apart by the deficit in infrastructure, training and technological assimilation in the system. To address this, they declared that member nations were to forthwith commit not less than 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector. Unfortunately, Nigeria has continued to falter with health budgets oscillating between 5-8% of the total budget. NEC therefore charges the incumbent and incoming governments to change the status quo.
Emergency Response Preparedness
NEC calls on governments at all levels to pay special attention to public health emergencies, non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases, cancer awareness and installation of modern medical laboratory equipment for quality diagnosis. The recently reported Lassa fever cases in Irrua Specialist Hospital is again a sad reminder that we are not yet out of the woods.
Hospital Administration
NEC calls on the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Bill for an Act to amend the University Teaching Hospitals (Reconstitution of Boards etc) Act Cap U15 LFN 2004”. It is the belief of NEC and Nigerians as a whole that when passed, the bill will address all discriminatory tendencies, promote inclusiveness, help Nigeria’s healthcare delivery thrive positively, benefit the average Nigerian patients instead of a professional group, improve the poor infrastructure that currently define our Tertiary Hospitals, mitigate the skilled manpower shortage caused by brain drain, and enhance more participation as more professionals will have the enabling environment to train and practice.
MLS Curriculum and Standards
AMLSN as a major stakeholder in MLS education calls on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to provide a minimum of 4 months for holistic review of the B.MLS curriculum in the recently released Core Curriculum and Minimum Accreditation Standard (CCMAS) for universities. The gaps and errors identified in the B.MLS curriculum are so pronounced that the 30% window can not address. While the efforts of NUC are appreciated, we believe the curriculum must be robust enough to reflect the dynamism in medical laboratory practice and evolution within the medical laboratory diagnostic ecosystem, so that our graduates can remain globally marketable. We also want to call on all private and public laboratories to key into Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) accreditation programs for laboratories across the country.

Medical tourism
For the umpteenth time, NEC frowns at thriving tendencies of medical tourism by Nigerians, especially the political class. It has been estimated that Nigeria spends about N664bn yearly on medical tourism; this is indeed a huge loss of foreign exchange and a drain on the country’s foreign reserves. These amounts, when invested in Nigeria health sector, will not only make it competitive to world class hospitals but make Nigeria a health tourism destination since most of the so-called world class hospitals in developed countries are manned by Nigerian health professionals. Consequently, we appreciate the federal government for provision of loans and funds through the Bank of Industry. We encourage that financial support and special intervention funds are dedicated to private sector investment into building of mega, high tech medical laboratories that can be globally competitive both in technology and test spectrum.
Brain drains
NEC observed with sadness the continuous human capital flight that has escalated to an alarming proportion. In 2022 alone the nation lost about 906 medical laboratory scientists to human capital flight. The reasons for brain drain include: poor leadership of the sector, corruption, poor remuneration and toxic work environment. We therefore call on government to address these concerns as a futuristic remedy for the malady.
2023 National Election:
NEC acknowledged that Nigerians are going to the polls in a matter of weeks to elect new leaders. NEC therefore encouraged Nigerians and indeed her members to participate actively in the process as responsible citizens by voting for credible candidates with proven track records, capacities and impeccable credentials. So far, we have perused through the manifestoes of leading candidates in the elections and we are concerned that some are lacking in depth and width. We hereby call on the candidates to reassess the situation on ground and enrich their healthcare agenda for the nation

Thank you

NationalSecretary
National Publicity Secretary

National President