Over the years, medical laboratory professionals who are known to play an active and significant role in the Nigerian health sector have been left uncelebrated. This report takes a look at the bold steps being taken by ISN Products Nigeria to recognize these set of unsung heroes for their huge contributions towards the growth of the health sector.
Health remains one critical sector that holds the pillar in any society. By all standard, one could easily evaluate or gauge the progress of any nation by how much value or importance it attaches to its health.
Developed nations of the world are ranked by how much they invest in the sector as such contributions bear semblance to the health and growth of the nation as a whole.
In Nigeria, the situation seems not to be the case with government at all level paying lip service to the growth of the sector.
Beyond the fact that the sector has suffered the highest form of neglect in terms of infrastructure by successive governments at all levels, the poor treatment of professionals in the industry has led to a lot of brain drain. The consequence of this, no doubt, has been responsible for the current state of the Nigerian health sector which arguably is at its lowest ebb.
Despite this setback, the Nigerian health sector has achieved modest successes, all thanks to the role of medical professionals who are giving their best for the development of the sector.
Although medical professionals such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists are often given kudos for their contributions, little mention is extended to medical laboratory scientists who equally play a significant role in providing good service delivery in the health sector.
These set of professionals, even though operate often behind the scene, together with other professionals have defied all odds to achieve major medical breakthroughs.
But an organisation is changing the narrative – the ISN Products Nigeria is setting a new standard to reward the unsung heroes of the Nigerian health care sector.
The organization in 2020 instituted an initiative to recognize medical laboratory scientists for their contributions to the development of medical practice and the growth of the health sector in Nigeria.
ISN Products Nigeria- the convener of the award is the leading supplier of medical diagnostic products and services in Nigeria and has been in operation for over three decades.
Speaking while flagging off the initiative, the Executive Director of ISN Products, Felix Ofungwu had said the decision to create such a platform was borne out of the need to reward medical laboratory practitioners who are hardly given a voice or honoured for the vital role they play in health care delivery.
According to Ofungwu, medical laboratory scientists are the bedrock of the medical practice as all others including the Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists rely on their diagnosis to provide quality healthcare and treatment.
The initiative which received an endorsement from the Federal Ministry of Health, the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN), and the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) in its inaugural edition lived up to its billings as it did not only recorded a significant number of entries but also gave everyone every reason to cheer at the grand finale ceremony.
With an esteemed panel of judges made up of practitioners from the medical laboratory field, all the entries were carefully evaluated leading to the selection of top 10 finalists.
At the grand finale, Abiola Fashina, a medical laboratory scientist who works at the University of Lagos Medical Centre emerged the winner of the maiden edition of the ISN Medical Laboratory Scientist of the Year Award and was trailed by the duo of Anayo Chidobu and Yahaya Usman who work at El-lab Laboratories and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital respectively.
For emerging the winner of the inaugural edition of the award, Fashina was rewarded with a cash prize of N1 million, a Capacity Development Training, and a donation of Medical Laboratory Equipment/reagents worth N1million to the laboratory or hospital where he works.
Chidobu and Usman went home with a cash prize of N750, 000, a Capacity Development Training opportunity and a cash prize of N500, 000 and a Capacity Development Training opportunity respectively. Other seven finalists were equally rewarded but with a cash prize of N200,000 each.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora who was represented by the Chief Executive Officer of Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-meta at the occasion, Dr Adedamola Dada, commended the company for conceptualizing such a noble initiative that would not only go a long way to encourage medical laboratory scientists but help a great deal to enhance the quality of health care delivery.
Mamora appreciated the contribution of medical laboratory scientists who he noted have continued to be a strong component of the health care system in Nigeria adding that ISN’S role in leading the charge towards their recognition was apt.
“We are indeed happy that ISN has taken it upon itself to recognize excellence among these subsets of health workers. We are equally pleased with the detailed effort and process used in arriving at the winner,” he added.
He urged the top finalists including the winner to see their emergence as an opportunity to contribute more in advancing the quality of medical laboratory science practice in Nigeria.
On his part, Ofungwu noted that the place of medical laboratory scientists in the health care sector could not have been more significant given their contribution to saving lives amidst the rampaging effect of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“For us at ISN, we believe that proper and adequate care is only as good as the accuracy of the diagnosis that the patient receives and the responsibility of that diagnosis is largely borne by the medical laboratory scientists,” he added.
The President, Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN), Tosan Erhabor equally lauded the company for leading the charge to celebrate the unsung heroes of the health sector through this initiative.
“The vision of ISN is in tandem with what MLSCN stands for and the reward for the award itself lends credence to the company’s commitment to quality laboratory service in Nigeria,” Erhabor stated.
Also speaking, the immediate Past President, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, AMLSN, Toyosi Raheem, who expressed gratitude on behalf of the association to ISN for honouring practitioners for their immense contribution to the growth of the health care sector in Nigeria emphasized that the award would no doubt boost the morale of laboratory scientists but also assist laboratories to improve their depth in research.
Raheem noted that the COVID- 19 pandemic has shown how important laboratory scientists are to the delivery of health care in Nigeria with practitioners responsible for providing the right reagents and equipment.
Speaking shortly after being announced the winner of the maiden edition of the award, Fashina applauded the management of the company for its commitment to quality medical science practice which, he said has been demonstrated through the recognition given to practitioners via the initiative.
He further charged other laboratory scientists to keep working hard and ensuring a quality standard of practice.