…says Laboratory privatization is for personal gains
By Ibrahim Sheriff (Gold)
The Kwara state Chapter of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) has said the Kwara state government is misinforming the public in its bid to justify planned privatization of government owned medical laboratories in the State.
The Director General of Kwara state Hospital Management Board, Sa’ad Oladimeji Aluko had in an earlier statement said it became necessary to manage State owned medical Laboratories through a public-private-partnership arrangement in a bid to remove crass inefficiency and sharp practices while considerations are given to the indigent members of the public in line with the ethos of the administration.
Kwara state government posited that “Quality of results coming from our laboratory directly impacts quality of the care we offer to our patients. In recent time, the public hospitals have recorded a number of casualties due largely to poor quality services and unethical practices by some officials in our laboratory.”
In a rejoinder signed by Kwara AMLSN Chairperson, Ogunwale (K.A.T) (Mrs), the Association said the excuse of the Kwara starts government is customary of State governments in the past to target the Laboratory for personal gain, in collaboration with their business friends who see the golden hen that lays the geese.
Ogunwale said laboratory privatization was first tried by Lagos State Government at the advent of democracy in Nigeria and only resulted in immediate high increase in the cost of running Laboratory Tests with attendant profiteering which eventually led to the barrage of public complaints and collapse of the program as it imposed monopoly, suffering on the masses, increase in out of pocket spending and anti Universal Health coverage which is the current focus of Healthcare strategy globally and therefore posited that “This new attempt by the DG is in the least taking kwara State twenty years back.”
She also noted that “Federal Ministry of Health experimented with this same strategy more than a decade ago at UCH and failed woefully. Infact, the Private companies left unceremoniously after breaking terms of agreement through greed and crass profiteering. The about to be implemented policy in Kwara by vested interest which is Anti-public cannot be different.”
The Association also noted that the allegation of unethical practices by lab officials is merely “given dog a bad name in order to hang it”, accusing the State government of hitherto populating laboratories with quacks and all kinds of unqualified Personnel against the sound counsel of the Association and queried if anyone has been brought to book administratively on the allegations by the State government. She insisted Medical Laboratory Scientists are not among those referred to as unethical by the State government.
Ogunwale added that members of her Association “have been doing all their best over the years to work with resources made available by government who had refused to adequately staff the Medical Laboratories and equip it with modern Laboratory equipments.
The so called acquired Equipments for the Laboratories by the DG were done without carrying the End Users along, only to purchase Outdated Equipments and dump them in the Laboratories. What magic does the DG expect with wrong Equipments it dumped in the Laboratories?”, she queried.
“It is trite to let the public know that referral for tests are never done by Medical Laboratory Scientists as it is beyond the scope of our duties. The DG knows very well that this is the function of Doctors who are compelled to refer tests to Private Laboratories outside knowing fully that there are no facilities to run the tests at the Government own Laboratories. The General Hospital in Ilorin has been turned to a glorified Primary Health Centre where major tests cannot be done. This Privatization drive is to take away the little that is left for the Public to enjoy in Government hospitals. This is Anti people and Anti posterity.”
The Association also said the claim by Kwara state government to have consulted stakeholders in the medical laboratory is outrightly falsehood, as the “AMLSN who are the major stakeholders was never involved in the purported consultationwith Stakeholders within the State Laboratory Services as claimed by the DG. All what has been done so far is working with selected Cheer Leaders and boot Lickers who are looking for what they will benefit without considering the interest of the public as clearly reflected in the PPP model adopted by the Health Management Board. This model about to be implemented by Kwara State is outdated as no State in Nigeria is currently applying this model.”
“The statement by the DG betrays itself in claiming that the job of Consultants is to quality control Lab Results. Is that the job of Consultants? How do signing Laboratory Results amount to Quality Control? What value has been added? Signing of Laboratory Result is not a quality control measure as being arrogantly claimed. The DG should consult with the Medical Laboratory Scientists to understand what Quality Control actually means as it is part and parcel of Medical Laboratory Profession and Practice.”
The Association affirmed that the government’s statement is political, inferring that “Kwara State has just 14 Medical Laboratory Scientists compared to more than 80 in neighboring Niger State without mentioning hundreds in Kogi, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Benue States. Instead of addressing the manpower needs and poor welfare issues, the DG is using Laboratory as cover up for crass inefficiency of Government agencies who have been keeping facts from the Government thus misleading it to enunciate Anti People policies especially the one that affects the people’s health.”
The Association concluded that the State Gov must jettison the drive for the PPP model it is currently promoting and consult with the Association, the major stakeholder in Medical Laboratory Testing for better ideas on solving the current challenges instead of feeding the public with half truths and misinformation. A stitch in time saves nine.