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West Africa scientists seek increased professionals, epidemic preparedness



The West African medical laboratory and research scientists, says it may take the subregion 400 years to achieve the accepted health professional to patient’s ratio except its current rate of training is improved.

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The West African medical laboratory and research scientists, says it will take 400 years to achieve the accepted professional to patient’s ratio at the current rate of training in the subregion.

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The scientists made the disclosure in a communique after their CELEBRATELAB West Africa Conference and released on Friday in Lagos.

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The communique was jointly signed by Candace Eastman, CEO, Africabio Enterprises, Liberia; Air Cdre Edward Akinwale (Rtd.), HUF for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Nigeria and Dr Abu Rahamani, President, Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts the physician:patient ratio at 1:600 standard, a target yet to be achieved by many West African countries.

The communique called on health ministries across the subregion to engage more professionals to boost the diagnostic capacity of public healthcare facilities and increase the professional to patients’ ratio.

It stressed the need to increase training of medical laboratory scientists, adding that regulators of health laboratory science in West Africa must fast track the process of instituting the licensure examination of graduate professionals.

The communique noted that this could be done using the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria template.

“Training the right number of professionals with the highest level of expertise is essential in preparing West Africa health systems in readiness for future disease outbreaks,” it said.

It added that the training must meet international standards such as ISO 15189 and the 12 Quality Essentials of Laboratory Practice, and be tailored to the current demands of the profession.

The communique, however, urged that untrained and unlicensed individuals should not be allowed to practice in medical laboratories in order not to promote quackery.

The scientists also urged countries to expedite measures in readiness for another pandemic, saying it’s only a matter of time before the world experiences a new disease outbreak after COVID-19.

According to the scientists, it took three to four years between the outbreak of three epidemics (the Spanish Flu, Avian Flu MERS) and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic unlike older outbreaks which took longer time between their occurrences.

The communique urged that lessons learnt should be applied in critical policy formulation and programmes to strengthen the subregion’s health systems to combat infectious diseases and future pandemics.

On vaccine production, the communique stressed the need for Africa to achieve the African Union’s target to produce at least 60 per cent of vaccines used in the continent by 2040.

It said that would ensure availability of affordable, high quality and accessible vaccines throughout the continent.

To this end, the communique urged West African governments to build diagnostic and research expertise to meet vaccine manufacturing in Africa for Africa. (

NewsSourceCredit: NAN

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