Ghana needs structured medical laboratory systems – GAMLS

Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) has over the years indicated the lack of medical laboratory standards and international practicing codes in our medical laboratories in Ghana. The issues have ever led to the professional body declaring an industrial strike action in the year 2016 and the matter is still pending at the National Labour Commission (NLC).

It is not surprising to note the health systems in Ghana have come under serious attack after the Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia took ill and was sent to UK for medical attention. From within and without, many concerns and reasons have been given. The government communication mentioned that the main reason for Dr.

Bawumia seeking medical attention out of the country was due to the peculiarity and urgency of his health as stated on The under-resourced state of our medical laboratories was vividly explained by the submission of the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensa Bonsu as presented on myjoyonline website.

He lamented in support of his claim saying “I do remember that when MPs had to access the facilities at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, for many of the tests that were run on us, they [hospital authorities] had to send the samples to South Africa”.

How worse can we be if the nation’s premier hospital laboratories cannot run simple medical examinations on their MPs? The fact is that individuals with their money could seek medical tourism outside Ghana for reasons known to them but when public officials do, it smacks of lack of trust in the health system they superintend.

Over the years, top leaders of the country have sought medical care outside Ghana and we are not surprised they refuse to build to establish proper health delivery systems. People have even recounted the loss of their relatives who sought medical attention from our deprived health facilities. Equipment that broke down and no one cared to fix led to several deaths.

The professional body is adding to the voice of many well-meaning Ghanaians for the government to fix the poor nature of our health systems particularly the medical laboratories. It has been said many times that our medical laboratories are running almost always without instituted quality control systems in place.

Despite the launch and adoption of the International Standards for medical laboratory practice by the Ghana Standards Authority (GS ISO 15189:2017), much commitment has not been received by the implementers and regulators of the law.

We are in a country where structures are not put in place to work. Rather we allow individuals to run affairs in their own ways to suit their plots and also their whims and caprices. A typical example is how the University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC) allowed individuals at the helm of affairs to sideline medical laboratory professionals in the planning, training and  recruitment of the personnel for the hospital.

What will we expect to be of our health delivery systems if our managers plan to suit just a few? The inadequacy of the structures in our health system as a nation clearly shows in the imbalance in personnel recruitment processes.

In a publication on Friday 6th 2018 by the Ministry of Health, of 17,000 medical practitioners which the government has recruited over the past year, only 7 slots were given to Medical Laboratory Technicians.

If this is what the government promotes, it tells clearly what they seek to achieve with regards to quality Medical Laboratory Services in Ghana. Why will they not embark on medical tourism for simple tests? We are by this release calling on the government and all stakeholders to as a matter of urgency get the National Health Laboratory Policies (NHLP) launched and the GS ISO 15189:2017 working as expecting to bring quality medical laboratory services to the people of this great nation.

Attention should also be given to the numerous letters of correspondence pertaining to the inadequate staffing situation in our public facilities.

Since 2012, many of the graduates of Medical Laboratory profession are still at home and remain unemployed while our facilities are crying due to inadequacies. At our 2017 Annual National Congress and Health Summit, the Minister of Health in his address promised to get the matter of the NHLP resolved by the first quarter of the year 2018. We are watching and expect the ministry not to fail. This when done will benefit all Ghanaians.

Source: Gyamerah Louis

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