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Zika virus: Medical lab scientists urge screening of pregnant women

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CSBS News Desk

The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) has urged the government to as a matter of urgency institute a system for screening of Zika virus especially amongst pregnant women in Nigeria in the light of the information from WHO that Zika is rapidly spreading to other countries of the world.

In a 13-point communiqué issued at the end of the 193rd National Executive Council meeting/Annual Public Health Lecture of the association in Calabar, they also appreciated the steps taken so far by the Federal and State Governments in managing the spread of Lassa fever through mass awareness and supply of ribavirin to most centres.

In the communiqué signed by the National President, Alh. Toyosi Raheem, National Secretary, Dr Surajudeen Junaid and National Public Relations Officer, Adeyeye Tam Adetunji, they said recent commitments by government to establish Lassa diagnostic centres in 14 states of federation is a welcome development and hoped that it will not “go the way of other white elephant projects we have had in the past.”

They also called on the government to ensure that Bio-Safety Level 4 laboratories are established in each geopolitical zone of the country to check the disease.

The medical laboratory scientists also called on government at all levels to constitute active surveillance team that will ensure holistic surveillance at all times to detect early warning signs of disease outbreaks to avoid health emergencies that may impact gravely on innocent Nigerians.

The communiqué read in part, “NEC commends the health professionals in Nigeria for rising to the occasion any time duty calls in spite of challenges of updated skills, outdated equipment and below standard facilities of diagnosis and treatment. NEC however reminds health professionals to ensure the proper and regular use of Personal Protective Equipment and world best practices in the discharge of their duties as they need to first remain alive to keep others alive in the face of dreaded epidemics.

“NEC identifies with the government and people of Nigeria over the current upsurge in Lassa fever epidemic barely a year after the outbreak of Ebola virus disease which ravaged many African countries. NEC subsequently condoles the families of those who had lost their loved ones to the disease and called on the public to adhere strictly to the preventive measures of personal and environmental hygiene.

“NEC noted the threat of neglected diseases such as spongiform enceplaloplthis and haemorrhagic fevers. NEC advised that the challenge must not be undermined by government, medical practitioners and indeed all stakeholders in view of the recent rise in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and haemorrhagic fevers in Nigeria and the world over.

“NEC also acknowledged that the challenge of public health is one of which the government and stakeholders must brace up to in the face of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

“NEC noted with utter dismay the inadequate diagnostic laboratories in Nigeria, a country of over 170 million people yet coping with few ill equipped diagnostic centres for public health emergencies.

“NEC appealed to all states in the federation to create a directorate of medical laboratory services in their respective ministries in health, and to appoint the most senior medical laboratory scientist as a substantive director in the ministries of health and health management boards, as done in Nursing, Pharmaceutical, Clinical and other services. This will ensure conformance to quality management systems in all medical laboratories and the implementation of ISO 15189 standard for all medical laboratories.”

They also commended the Federal Government for the fight against corruption and encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure all looted funds are recovered and ploughed back into programmes that would benefit the masses.

Source: The Nation

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