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Author Topic: Over 50 per cent of health laboratories in Nigeria are manned by quacks  (Read 3153 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
Expert in Bioscience Issues
Posts: 657

« on: September 13, 2011, 09:03:16 am »

For sometime now, the issue of medical quacks manning many of the nation’s laboratories and hospitals has been in the front burner of national discourse. Prof. Anthony Emeribe, Registrar of Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) during the induction of 211 fresh graduates into the council gave startling revelations about the terrible state of some of the medical laboratories in the country. 
He said ‘over 50 per cent of health laboratories in Nigeria are manned by quacks. The bulk of medical laboratory reagents and chemicals in our markets are fake or substandard. They are often stored and distributed under unsuitable conditions.’
Emeribe is in a position to know, which is why his statement on this important subject should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand. As the operational henchman of MLSCN, he has the facts and figures regarding how laboratories are run here on his fingertips. And, to demonstrate its seriousness to stamp out the menace, the council shut down 96 of the laboratories that were operating illegally in some states across the federation. 
The breakdown is as follows: Rivers 18; Abia 18; Edo 17; Imo 14; Delta 11; Akwa Ibom nine; and Lagos nine. The figures represent only seven out of 36 states in the country, excluding Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). We can only imagine what the picture would look like by the time the entire country is covered. 
Many Nigerians had fallen victims of the nefarious activities of these quacks. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the prominent lawyer and human rights activist died from the consequence of wrong diagnosis, among other Nigerians that suffered similar fate. Perhaps he and many others that had died through wrong diagnosis could have lived if their ailments had been correctly diagnosed at the early stages because this would have enabled them to have the right medications.
 We have expressed concern about the lethargic official and stakeholders’ approach to this menace. Regrettably, we do not know how many of the offenders, including their official accomplices,  had been arraigned or convicted for running quack laboratories or sub-standard hospitals. 
Hope seems to be appearing on the horizon with the belated but nonetheless commendable attempt by the MLSCN to rid the society of Laboratory impostors masquerading as professionals. The council should adopt the World Health Organisation (WHO)/AFRO laboratory assessment checklists for quality improvement and accreditation of laboratories.
No doubt, its investigative and disciplinary organ so far has not done enough to identify and eliminate quack laboratories and those behind their establishment. It must also go after some registered and accredited laboratories with branches that fall short of prescribed standards, to save lives.
Moreover, the MLSCN should spread its dragnet to other states of the federation where the activities of illegal laboratory owners are sending people to  untimely graves. The government must equally support this worthy cause as no effort must be spared in the attempt to rid the nation of quacks masquerading as medical personnel.
We can only hope that the 124 new laboratories approved by the MLSCN met the approved criteria. Quackery in medical laboratories is as bad as fake and adulterated drugs. The country would therefore be better for it if we can give it the same attention as we do to those manufacturing or importing fake and sub-standard drugs into the country. 
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