The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has restated Government’s commitment to ending the lingering professional rivalry among Medical Practitioners in Nigeria, particularly the one between the Medical and Dental Practitioners (MDP) and Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) which experts say has its roots in the Acts governing their practices.
Dr. Mamora expressed this commitment when he received a team from the College of Nigerian Pathologists led by its President, Professor Philip Olatunji in his office at the Federal Secretariat Abuja, Tuesday, 15th September, 2020.
Professor Olatunji had earlier informed the Honourable Minister that the purpose of the visit was to pay a courtesy call and to seek his intervention on some of the lingering problems being experienced in the laboratories, particularly in Government hospitals. Some of the issues he mentioned include: Conflict between the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ (MDP) Act and the Medical Laboratory Science Council (MLSCN) Act; NCDC Guidelines on Laboratories seeking to participate in COVID-19 Testing,
The Professor also made a case for the reorganization of the Division of Medical Laboratory Services and the National Laboratory Technical Working Group, as well as the Residency Training in Pathology, among others.
While giving background to the issues, Professor Olatunji pointed that the College of Nigerian Pathologists represents all Pathologists in the country and all practitioners of laboratory medicine. According to him, “Laboratories particularly in Government Hospitals are the most problematic; they are problematic not because they cannot function, but because it’s a place of multiple professionals and cadres, working together. That is the way it is all over the world, but in our own very working experience, group of people who normally are supposed to work together to provide services for our nation, for some reasons were found in a lot of restiveness in that area.”
In response to some of the issues raised, the Honourable Minister of State admitted that “the issues raised were, very germane.” He however pointed out that the claim that the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) declined the offer by the College of Pathologists in Nigeria; particularly regarding autopsy on patients who died of COVID-19 may not be intentional. In his words, “While not speaking for NCDC, but let me offer apology because you claimed that you offer expertise particularly regarding autopsy and patients dying of COVID-19 was spurned and shunned.”
Dr. Mamora explained that these were not the best of times for anybody as COVID-19 has taken the best part of everybody. He however assured that it was not intended that way, considering the fact that we all need each other, saying “We always say health care delivery is a team event, it’s not a solo event. Everybody in the team is important and has to be given that acknowledgement.”
On the issue of conflict between the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ (MDP) Act and the Medical Laboratory Science Council (MLSCN) Act, Dr. Mamora said that it’s not unusual to have conflicts in Acts of Parliament but what to do in such circumstance is to see where one can harmonize or where there are grey areas to clearly delineate, which is done through the process of law itself or through some other mechanisms for conflict resolutions.
On the issue of NCDC Guidelines on Laboratories seeking to participate in COVID-19 Testing, the Minister of State said that with the right criteria and requirements in place, laboratory owners can operate freely. “Whoever owns the laboratory, once the competence is there, whatever criteria or requirements are in place, you register, and then you will be free to do what you want to do within the ambit of the law”, he said. He added that there are given broad guidelines which make States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) still have control in terms of registration of Centers, “Just like we have the private hospital registration authority, the same thing for FCT as well, so, I don’t think it’s a straight forward thing like that, but whatever, we will look at that and if we need to correct whatever, it has to be done. But I’m sure the final registration lies with the State and FCT Authority.”
Dr. Mamora disclosed that the issue of obstruction and interference with Residency Training in Pathology is one of the issues on the front burner of the Ministry. “Incidentally, we just concluded the Top Management Committee Meeting of the Ministry and this issue of Residency Training was one of the issues that came up. We have a lot of issues around the Residency Training and you recall that even the recently suspended strike action of the National Association of Resident Doctors, that’s one of the issues/contention; funding and all that.” He noted that the process itself is as important as the funding and that the College of Nigerian Pathologists may have to be involved so as to know exactly what the issues are as it affects their discipline, with the aim of having a holistic approach to solving the problems.
On the issue of the National Organogram for Laboratory Services, Dr. Mamora noted that it was an administrative issue saying that “If you have a position that is already in place or that you are recommending, let us have that recommendation so that we can juxtapose that with what is presently obtainable and see what can be done. The most important thing is that we want everybody to be on board, but at the same time let people know where they belong in terms of the organogram as you have mentioned.”
Giving her intervention, the Director Hospital Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi described the visit as the “meeting desired” saying that it is the beginning of a new journey that will lead to the desired destination to have solution to some of the lingering problems. Dr. Adebiyi who told the gathering that she has been around to know much about the history of some of the issues expressed dismay that the issues are still recurring.
She also stated that the issues were receiving surface dressing whereas “we need to get to the root.” “Thankfully the Honourable Minister is a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many of them actually emanate from the laws governing them.” She also revealed that some of the issues were already being quietly interrogated, but with caution, so as to be objective and not being considered as biased.
By Blessing Egbo
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.