By Awkadigwe Fredrick Ikenna,Specialist obstetrician and Gynaecologist, LLB, DSC.
A friend of mine called me a week ago. He recounted a story about how his medical facility was vandalized by some people who claimed that they were conducting inspection on laboratories. Another friend of mine called me few days ago. He recounted how some pharmacy shop inspectors vandalized his medical facility.
The inspectors in the narrated scenarios were fighting quackery in their professions. These events were happening in a country Nigeria where the adjudged best way to fight quackery in the medical field was by the use of stamps.
The medical profession is the only profession empowered by the law to be at the center of patients care. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Health Act, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Act, the National Postgraduate Medical College Act, the Teaching Hospital Act, the Teaching Hospitals Board Reconstitution Act, the Health Laws of different states of Nigeria, and the laws regulating other professions, placed medical profession at the center of health management of the populace. But what do we see: we see a medical profession, that when its paraprofessional appendages have hit the ground running to protect their paraprofession from even the medical profession by moving around the communities to see with their eyes and act with their hands to stop any usurpation of their duties, the medical profession, the center of the whole, chose the stamp as their own Inspectorate.
Considered and conceded that the relevant laws establishing those paraprofessions may have given them a stronger bite of inspection capabilities than what the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act gave the medical profession, yet there is one big leadership collapse in the medical profession antiquackery campaign that must be highlighted, despite all these excused statutory differences. The National Health Act and Enugu state Health Law (and other states Health Laws) are the focal points.
Enugu State, under Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, enacted the Enugu State Health Law in 2005. That law created the Joint Inspectorate, charged with the responsibility of inspecting all health facilities including the non medical facilities. The Joint Inspectorate was made up of only medical practitioners; I repeat, only medical practitioners. That was Chimaroke legacy in Enugu state, for the good health of his compatriots, and for his medical constituency in a national era where orderliness is turned upside down because of grab grab mentality.
Therefore, while the paraprofessionals have some iota of inspectorate capabilities deriving from their enabling Acts, the medical profession has an overbearing and overriding inspectorate capabilities cutting across any other health institution or facility in Enugu state. But what do we see: we see a medical profession, which is empowered by all manner of laws to get things right, resolve to use stamps to do the work of the statutory Inspections.
The National Health Act in its section 52 is clear on who can collect samples from a living person. Only medical doctors have that statutory and legal capacity. While it is still left for judicial interpretation on who can analyze human samples (whether it is only medical practitioners, or both medical practitioners and medical laboratory scientists in parallel), it is beyond all controversy that no other professional, except the medical doctors, can collect samples, including urine, faeces, blood or sputum, from a living person in Nigeria.
With this reality on the ground, then tell me how a medical laboratory scientist can run a private laboratory without a medical practitioner. What has the medical leaderships or the Joint Inspectorate done to the non medical practitioners who indiscriminately collect samples at the so-called medical laboratories and use same for testing. Tell me why the leadership of the medical profession can be so blind that they cannot see all this. Tell me what the Joint Inspectorate is inspectorating. Just tell me.
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© Copyright 2018 Ikenna Fredrick Awkadigwe. All rights reserved. No part of this publication is permitted to be used in any way, copied, photocopied printed, reproduced, transferred, adapted, argued in any fora, used in Court or recreated in any form or resemblance whatsoever, without the written approval and license of the author, Ikenna Fredrick Awkadigwe.