By Zayamu Hassan
A Nigeria-born renown medical laboratory scientists, Dr Godswill Okara, has been elected into the eight-member Board of Directors of International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Science (IFBLS).
Dr Okara who was a one-time President of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) is the first Nigerian to occupy this prestigious position in the world.
The keenly contested election which was attended by over 30 countries took place at the just concluded 35th World Congress of the International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Science in Suwon, South Korea.
The IFBLS Board represents the medical laboratory science profession in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other multilateral organizations.
The Board implements the strategic plan and objectives of the IFBLS to promote the global development of educational and practice standards of the profession.
The Board, over the years, has remained a strong global voice and representative of the medical laboratory science profession.
Responding to questions from journalists in Abuja, Dr Okara, explained that his election will enable Nigeria in particular and Africa at large to contribute to the development agenda of medical laboratory science practice globally.
“My election will ensure that Nigeria and indeed Africa make effective contributions in the global arena in setting the developmental agenda for the profession and for surmounting the challenges of emerging and re-emerging diseases afflicting humanity.
“Nigeria is poised to contribute our best in finding solutions to global health problems. We have the capacity and innovative endowment to contribute from the front row in proffering solutions for the achievement of global health security agenda,” Dr. Okara stressed.
Responding to a question on what Nigerians should expect following his election into the prestigious IFBLS Board, Dr Okara said: “Nigerian medical laboratory science professionals will increasingly key into the advancement in innovative biomedical technologies for improved health service delivery and research. This will stem and reverse the medical tourism to our country’s benefit.
“Most Nigerians that go abroad for healthcare attention do so because of the fragile diagnostic infrastructure and inability of our system to effectively diagnose their ailments.
“Effective and accurate diagnosis of heath conditions constitutes over 60 per cent of the solution. Treatment without accurate diagnosis is a waste of resources and an exercise in guesswork.”
Dr Okara, however, insisted that medical laboratory science practice is making huge progress in Nigeria.
He noted that: “We now have a number of medical laboratory scientists who have passed the certifying examination of the International Academy of Cytology (IAC), which is the highest global evidence that they have the skill to function effectively in the accurate diagnosis of many cancer cases.
“Now is the time to consciously promote collaboration and cooperation among healthcare professionals in Nigeria. Enough of the unhealthy inter-professional rivalry that has devastated our health system.
“Healthcare practice is rapidly evolving into personalized and predictive medicine practice. Medical laboratory science and laboratory testing are the major drivers of personalized and predictive medicine.”
While commending the current President of the AMLSN, Professor James Damen for the prominent role he played in ensuring he emerged victorious during the highly contested election, Dr Okara called on medical laboratory professionals in Nigeria and Africa in general to cultivate the habit of constant knowledge and skill update.
He, therefore, called on governments at all levels and healthcare institutions management authorities to support medical laboratory scientists in their employment to acquire the necessary cutting-edge knowledge and skill for practice in the 21st Century.
“This is what is required to strengthen our healthcare system and institutions to serve our people effectively.
“A well performing healthcare system is not rocket science. It is a function of professional personnel with relevant knowledge and skill, who will utilize appropriate equipment and infrastructure to the best possible benefit of patients and society,” he noted.