The Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors of Nigeria (GMLD) has called on National Health Insurance Scheme to review its operations to allow for the inclusion of private laboratory operators in the system.
Mrs Chioma Austin-Onuorah, the President of the Guild, made the call on Wednesday during the opening of the 22nd Annual General Meeting of the body in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia.
The theme of the conference was “Persistent sickle cell disease in Africa – role of the private medical laboratories in its mitigation and possible eradication”.
Austin-Onuorah said the inclusion of the operators would reduce the under-utilization of the capacity of private laboratories which, according to him, is discouraging further investments into the sector.
She also urged the Federal Government and tax authorities to streamline the tax system in order not to enburden small businesses so they could play their role in Nigeria’s development.
She said the GMLD created the conference forum to discuss and address issues that promote healthy lifestyle and preventive healthcare.
She also said that the sector promotes accessible, timely laboratory and preventive health screens that prevent and predict disease onset and preserve traceable data for health interventions.
Dr Okezie Okamgba, the state Chairman, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), said the choice of Abia for the event was no mistake.
Okamgba said that Abia had a record of being at the top with the highest number of Science Laboratory practitioners in private practice.
He said the conference came at the right time when the world was yearning for partnership between private operators and public sector operators to facilitate diagnosis for COVID-19.
He said that topics on sickle cell disease, an inherited disorder, and COVID-19, that is communicable, would be discussed at the conference.
Okamgba expressed the hope that the knowledge acquired through the conference would help to reposition private practice and complement the work of the public operators.
Prof. Lawrence Chigbu, Rector, Abia State College of Health Science and Management Technology, who delivered the keynote address, described the theme of the conference as very apt for the moment.
Chigbu said that sickle cell damages bone marrow and kidneys, among other destructive effects on the human body.
According to him, the frequency of the occurrence of the genes responsible for it in Africa is up to 40 per cent.
He said the occurrence of the disease in Nigeria was about 18 per cent, adding that laboratory practitioners should ensure proper tests and counseling to unmarried couples to stop the disease.
He said only biologists and laboratory professionals had the capacity to curb the disease and urged them to be professional in their job to check its prevalence.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu said that Vicar Hope Foundation, his wife, Nkechi’s pet project, was fighting the disease.
Ikpeazu said the foundation had facilitated the passage of a law enabling genotype tests on babies in Abia with their status embeded, on their birth certificates.
Ikpeazu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr Eze Egbulefu, said that government was ready to partner the body to end quackery in the profession.