The Young Medical Laboratory Scientists Forum (YMLSF) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to review the membership composition of the health sector reform committee with a view to include health regulatory councils into the committee.

The YMLSF made the call in Calabar in a release jointly signed by its National President, MLS Emmanuel Nkumah and the National Secretary, MLS Jegede Suleiman.

The Young Medical Scientists Forum expressed worried that the composition was done to favor a particular group of health professionals, hence the call for inclusion of very critical health regulatory councils into the committee.

The 25 man committee with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo as the Chairman has 18 members who are physicians, one member each from the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives. The other three members, though critical stakeholders are non-health workers.

“We are deeply worried at the alarming number of physicians on the health reform team as we observed that the Nigerian health sector is made up of over 10 core healthcare stakeholders which include the Medical Laboratory Scientists, Nurses, Radiographers, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Dieticians, Health Informatics, and others,” the release said.

YMLSF urged the President to include health regulatory councils such as Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, Pharmacist Council, Nursing Council, Radiographers, and Physiotherapist Council in order to give them the opportunity to bring their expertise to bear.

YMLSF noted that in ensuring the principle of equity, fairness, and justice by providing a voice for all stakeholders including patients’ rights advocates, membership should also be drawn from all stakeholders including but not limited to all health professionals and ancillary staff groups/unions in the sector including the Joint Health Sector Union, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Practitioners and the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria.

“It is our utmost desire that the reform committee comes up with solutions that will finally lay to rest the challenges in the health sector but the number of physicians to other health workers ratio is unsuitable and may hamper on any resolution that may arise from the committee.

“We, therefore, recommend that representative of health regulatory councils such as the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, Pharmacist Council, Nursing Council, Radiographers, and Physiotherapist Council be included to step up the numbers of other health workers on the reform committee and bring their expertise to bear.

“We recommend that representatives of core health professional associations omitted on the team such as Physiotherapists and Radiographers be added for equity and more robust discussion.

“That a representative each from young affiliated health groups such as the Young Medical Laboratory Scientists Forum, Young Pharmacist group be added to bring in their energy and intelligence to bear.

“Inclusion of certified health economists, in-country WHO recognized consultants on in-vitro diagnostics, and other relevant experts in emerging thematic areas in the health sector shall help the committee to achieve its goal.

“Ensuring representation of all stakeholders is critical to the success of any reform policies that may be generated as it provides needed community buy-in. This will also ensure robust engagements and discussions that will cover all grey areas that pose challenges in the health sector,” the release stated.

We have also observed a foundational challenge and lacuna in the composition of members that is inimical and may have a damaging effect on the successful outcome of the initiative.

Kindly recall Sir, the country had similar composition during the Obasanjo-led administration which finally ended up in a deadlock as resolutions from the reform team were not implementable and were met with stiff rejection by mainstream health workers which makes up over 85% of the health sector. This was so because the skewed committee proposed recommendations that weren’t far-reaching and encompassing.

This also contributed to the current collapsing state and fueled the inter-professional rivalry we are witnessing today, which is the major cause of the setbacks in the health sector.

Nigerians deserve a better health service delivery and this should be our top priority and utmost concern. To achieve this, the government must carry all critical health stakeholders along in all her policies and reforms.

The YMLSF commended President Buhari for the laudable initiative of constituting the health sector reform committee to look into the myriad of problems bedeviling the health sector to recommend possible solutions and reforms for the crumbling and collapsing health sector.

The Youg Medical Laboratory Scientists Forum also commended the President for the laudable increase in the budgetary allocation to the health sector which goes further to reflect the genuine interest in reshaping and revamping the sector for the benefit of the teeming Nigerians who cannot afford the outrageous costs of private healthcare facilities.

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