By Martins Ifijeh
As Nigeria continues to battle outbreaks of Lassa fever and Coronavirus, the Association of Medical Laboratory Science of Nigeria (AMLSN) has warned that outbreaks of cholera and meningitis were imminent.
Giving the warnings at the 14th Public Health Lecture Series of AMLSN and induction /investiture of Foundation fellows and 2020 Annual Congress of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science, WAPCMLS, the National Publicity Secretary, AMLSN, Dr. Casmier Ifeanyi said the outbreak of Lassa fever has shown that much was not done to revamp Nigeria’s health system against preventable diseases.
He said five laboratories were grossly inadequate to cater for over 200 million people at risk of Lassa fever.
He said prior to the coming of Dr. Chikwe Ihekwazu as the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, only the Irrua Specialist hospital laboratory had a semblance of capacity for Lassa fever diagnosis in the country.
“We are worried because not much is being done to build the capacity of the Nigerian health workforce especially the workforce in medical laboratories in the area of diagnosis and containment of the ravaging COVID-19 that has claimed the lives of several thousands of people in China among others.”
Ifeanyi said a number of AMLSN members are currently on training abroad on the COVID-19 diagnosis testing device, noting that Nigeria’s health system, for want of preparedness, was usually overwhelmed during outbreaks and that cholera and meningitis have claimed lives enmasse, hence the need for early response.
“These are vaccine for prevention but unfortunately, efforts at vaccine production locally by successive governments have failed and the country now depends on importation.
“We call for an urgent reform of the Nigerian health system which is currently with an index score of 19.9 out of a top score of 100.
“The reform must be comprehensive and unbundle the present hegemonic structure of the health system into administrative, clinical governance and service leadership structures,” he noted.