Wednesday, 26 December 2012

At Christmas we are "Only As Strong As Our Weakest Point"

Dear Friends, 

Christmas two years ago, I asked my friend; Patrick Anigbo to reflect on a very personal story. This Christmas, I was reminded of the post as the issues are still as relevant now as they were then, maybe more so. The central message is that our society, indeed any society is only as strong as its weakest point....this is Paddy's story....enjoy, reflect, do. 

Merry Christmas! 

Only As Strong As Our Weakest Point
by Patrick Anigbo

This year my first child, a son we named Odinakanna (translated - it is in the hand of GOD), celebrated his 10th birthday. It has become custom, at least amongst my friends, to mark our children’s 10th birthday with some sort of fanfare – it is a milestone of some sort. And so it was that close family and friends organised for Odi a truly breath-taking day. Not even the spring downpour and the attendant travel chaos could put a dampener on proceedings.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Laboratory medicine matures in Africa: How should Nigeria translate talent to impact?

We could not attend an important conference on Laboratory Medicine in Africa this month because we were involved in another important event in London at the same time, so you can imagine our excitement when a dear colleague - Iruka Okeke sent us her take from the conference. Iruka has contributed a lot to the development of laboratory medicine on the continent. Her seminal book -  Divining without Seeds: The Case for Strengthening Laboratory Medicine in Africa is compulsory reading for all those really interested in improving health care in Africa. 

By Iruka N Okeke

It was my privilege to attend the first scientific meeting of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM; Dec 1-7, 2012, Cape Town) .  Yes there were the usual plenaries, symposia, break-out sessions, exhibitions and networking opportunities, but this was so much more than just another scientific congress.  Barely two decades ago, certainly in most of Africa, medical laboratory science was the hole in which biologists or chemists with little training or ambition fell into and settled to the bottom with a dull thud.  A few stars led pivotal programs but the vast majority would report daily to a bare bench or, in frustration, seek genuine employment in other sectors.  This was the state of affairs in spite of the fact that most patients on the continent had an infectious disease that could easily and reliably be diagnosed with a simple laboratory test and that testing was essential to optimize treatment. 
So much has changed in the last decade and as one who as argued throughout this time for strengthening laboratory medicine in Africa, the meeting afforded a truly delightful opportunity to see how laboratory medicine has blossomed over the continent in the last decade.  In addition to the better-known developments in point-of-care testing for malaria and laboratory capacity building for HIV diagnosis and monitoring, it was heartening to see considerable progress in the diagnosis of other common diseases, in diagnostic test development, and a much-needed rise in morale among laboratory scientists.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Another MANSAG meeting in the UK

Each year, the umbrella group for Nigerian Doctors in the UK, MANSAG, holds an annual conference. The 2012 conference held recently in Leeds and there was a good turnout from Nigerian doctors, nurses and medical students and their families from across the UK as well as key speakers from Nigeria and the UK. 

IKE ANYA attended for Nigeria Health Watch. His reflections from the event are summarised below. 

The theme was “Investing in Healthcare in Nigeria” but my arrival in a very cold Leeds at about 10 am, meant that I missed the welcome address from Mr Gbolade, chair of the Local Organizing Committee and the opening remarks from the outgoing President of MANSAG, Professor Dilly AnumbaGetting to the venue, the foyer was filled with exhibition stands from various companies keen to sell their services to the Nigerian doctors- from insurance companies and financial advisers to Nigerian property developers, to a Mary Kay cosmetics stand.

Arriving in the hall filled with over 200 people, I caught Dr Kukoyi of Ace Medicare clinics speaking on investing in healthcare in Nigeria – the state and future of CPD. He talked about his work running 6 international free CPD conferences in Ibadan in association with Indian and American hospitals, and marvelled that some Nigerian doctors cannot use computers and some do not even have email addresses. He mentioned that since 2010, an annual practising licence for doctors was now conditional on evidence of CPD, paying tribute to Prof Shima Gyoh and Prof Roger Makanjuola, under whose tenures as chairs of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria the regime had been developed and introduced.