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The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has called for well-resourced and independent regulatory bodies that will ensure strict adherence and control, devoid of any form of interference or coercion, to eliminate quack health professionals from the system.
He noted that although all existing regulatory bodies in the health sector, such as the Health Facilities Regulatory Authority (HeFRA), the Allied Health Professions Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Medical and Dental Council and others, were working, a lot more needed to be done to ensure that all professionals acquired licences to operate effectively.
Mr Agyeman-Manu made the call in a speech read on his behalf by the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Yakubu, at the opening of the 2021 Annual National Congress (ANC) of the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) in Bolgatanga yesterday.
The four-day congress is on the theme: “Standardising medical laboratory science practice in Ghana to better position the country in the midst of infectious diseases”.
The ANC is the highest profile event on the GAMLS’s calendar and offers medical laboratory practitioners, including medical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians, medical laboratory assistants and other members in the health research industry and academia, the opportunity to meet to deliberate on the theme, as well as keep abreast of new developments in the profession.
A number of dignitaries were at the opening ceremony and gave solidarity messages.
Health Laboratory Policy
Mr Agyeman-Manu said his outfit was doing everything possible to ensure the implementation of the National Health Laboratory Policy Document to further strengthen the regulatory bodies to flush out the quacks.
He was of the view that the National Accreditation Board and other health professional regulatory bodies could ensure excellent curricula for the education of professionals.
“Moreover, an essential component in standardisation is being aligned to and accredited by a national or international organisation of standardisation(ISO). In Ghana, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) ensures that all facilities follow a particular standard,” he said.
He said he was “reliably informed that the medical laboratory science practice currently dealt with ISO 15189:2012, with 12 quality essentials that ensure that what was done in America was done in Uganda, South Africa, Ghana and everywhere you go”.
The minister expressed optimism that in a couple of years, every laboratory in Ghana would adhere to national standardisation processes.
“We are in the era of evidence-based medicine where diagnosis remains paramount; without good health laboratory systems and the medical laboratory professional, our health is meaningless and we will all be at risk of a bad system,” Mr Agyeman-Manu pointed out.
The President of GAMLS, Dr Abu Abudu Rahamani, called for the implementation of the National Health Laboratory Policy to help enforce standards for specialised health service delivery.
He said the policy, which was developed with funding and technical assistance from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America and signed by a former Health Minister, Ms Sherry Ayittey, had a component with the capacity of ensuring that standards were attained by approximately 80 per cent, hence the need to implement it to help sanitise the profession.
The GAMLS President further indicated that the country was in an era when “some basic tests cannot be done in our regional and district laboratories that are considered primary healthcare providers”.
He said it was regrettable that there were inadequate well-trained licensed medical laboratory professionals for effective and efficient discharge of diagnostic, therapeutic and research functions for excellent health care, with the relevant authorities mandated to take action not being bothered.
He, however, said notwithstanding all those challenges, medical laboratory science practice had made strides in the country.
The Upper East Regional Deputy Director of the Clinical Care Unit of the GHS, Dr Abdul Razak Dokurugu, said there was the need for all medical laboratories in the country to be well-equipped to match up with international standards.
The Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, Tong-Raan Kugbilsong Nalebegtang, who chaired the ANC, expressed the hope that deliberations at the congress would eventually enhance healthcare delivery in the country.