Haneef Ahmed Amissah, a Medical Laboratory Scientist says quality medical laboratory service is a prerequisite to dependable healthcare system.
According to him, Laboratory practice over the years and around the globe have been the backbone and an inevitable player of all healthcare systems. Laboratory results accounts for 70-80% of all medical decisions made on patient care. Yes, 70-80%, that’s huge right? Medical practice and healthcare systems have over the years transitioned from experimental practice to empirical and evidence-based practice. This new age centres around a well resourced and regulated Laboratory space considering how crucial it services are in providing evidence to substantiate medical decisions.
Haneef Ahmed Amissah who is a Rare, Undiagnosed and Genetic Disease Advocate, and the Program Lead, Diagnostic Program, Rare Disease Ghana Initiative noted that, conversely, that well regulated and resourced system central to quality and reliable healthcare that translates into high rates of recoveries and an overall healthy state is being hijacked for eight (8) good years. Yes, you read right, 8 good years! For all these years, some vital policies (National Health Laboratory Policy Document, National Health Laboratory Accreditation Policy Document and the National Health Laboratory Strategic Plans) yet to be launched, the “game changer” what I choose to call it, continues to gather dust on the shelves of the Ministry of Health.
He believes that, If these documents had been operationalized some 8 years ago, what it meant was that, Ghana would have been better positioned to operate and coordinate laboratory services even at the CHPS compound level (transitioning it from the experimental type of treatment to empirical evidence-base healthcare), increased the battery of tests carried out in the District, Regional, Teaching Hospitals and the current Quaternary Hospital, UGMC. Thus, the issue of this/these laboratory test(s) can not be run here or these tests have to be flown/shipped outside to be carried out, which comes more costly would have been a thing of the past. Moreover, there would have been a well regulated framework to accredit laboratories and make sure that well groomed and certified Medical Laboratory personnel practised, thus, protecting the precious lives of Ghanaians from quacks. Still, there would have been a committed source of funding for Laboratory operations nationwide. There would have been a coordinated system to grant laboratory practitioners scholarships to further their education in novel cutting-edge specialties to render highly specialised laboratory services to Ghanaians and an equitable distribution of human resources to places in dying need of Laboratory services. More importantly, we would have been better positioned to handle the laboratory diagnosis of the current COVID-19 pandemic possibly even at the Regional Hospitals to provide timely results to inform swift epidemiological measures to control the spread of the Corona virus unlike the delayed dissemination of results due to the pressure on the few facilities handling the testing.
“At the point of the outbreak of COVID-19, not even a single government (public) operated laboratory, not even the highly specialized Quaternary Hospital, UGMC, could render the laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19. Only two facilities in Ghana met the infrastructural and tooling needs at the time to handle the laboratory diagnosis, Nugouchi Memorial Research Institute and KCCR, research facilities whose core mandate is research in the basic sciences and not Laboratory diagnosis. However, these facilities continue to render Laboratory diagnosis and have veered off their core mandate of research which would have come in very handy at these times in steering break neck decisions of how to tackle this pandemic.” He said.
“Permit me to say at this point that, the promise of delivering an even more comprehensive and reliable health system for “all” sounds deceiving and illusive, especially when there are scanty and limited “proper hand lenses” (Well regulated and Resourced Medical Laboratory Systems) to support the “visually impaired” (Doctors and other Healthcare Practitioners alike) in corroborating evidence, bringing to light the hidden fine details and pointing them in the right direction in patient care and management. Partly, it is in this light that, government appointees and some wealthy individuals mostly seek healthcare in foreign lands due to the nonexistent proper diagnostic systems to provide deep insights into patient(s) disease conditions. Instituting a proper Medical Laboratory System by launching these documents will save Ghana some foreign exchange and increase our chances of Ghana becoming a Medical hub in West Africa.” He explained.
A Laboratory Quality Management Systems Enthusiast indicated that, the time has come and the time is now to provide quality, reliable and a dependable healthcare system accessible to all Ghanaians irrespective of one’s location just as “you” seek in foreign countries. “I humbly call on the Health Minister designate, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu to rethink his decisions on the launch and full implementation of the National Health Laboratory Policy Document, National Health Laboratory Accreditation Policy Document and the National Health Laboratory Strategic Plan to be his contribution and legacy of service to this great nation of ours in his second term if given the nod as Health Minister.”
God bless our homeland Ghana and make it great and strong.