The recent clash between the Medical Doctors and Medical Laboratory Scientists at the University of calabar Teaching hospital was as a result of a long battle for who is in charge of the lab because the resident doctors who are doctors on training by way of training come for posting in the lab, of recent are claiming to own the lab. They’re asking the medical laboratory scientists who are the real owners of the lab out of their primary place of assignments. So they came out and said no.
Sometimes last month, a circular was sent to medical laboratory scientists that starting from 1st to 5th of September, no laboratory scientist should be found in the lab that it is the turn of the resident doctors to work in the lab and start analyzing patient’s samples.
This generated some rancor and the leadership of the laboratory scientists in that institution wrote back to the management opposing the letter on the basis that it is not the duty of the medical doctors to analyze samples.
The protest started on Thursday, 5th September, 2019 when the Intern Medical Laboratory Scientists got to the laboratory (their place of work and training) only to discover that every section of the laboratory was under lock and key and heavily fortified with security agents.
The security agents were approached and asked why they can’t gain access and were informed that it was an order from the management and they should await further instructions.
At about 8am, a group of management staff accompanied by security agents came in to address everyone and the interns were told that admission into the Laboratory will be based on display of Staff Identity Cards.
In regards to the management decision and compliance to the civil service rule, all interns and Staff having their ID’s on them entered the laboratory and started their laboratory analysis of samples while those without ID’s left the hospital premises immediately. It was almost a calm and quiet morning.
Scuffle ensued when students of Medical Laboratory Science of University of Calabar noticed that the Medical Students of same school were granted entry into the Laboratory without their ID’s, while they (Medical Laboratory Science Students) were denied entry to carry out their mandatory Laboratory posting. This particular act of undue preference flared up tempers and the students raised questions and demanded to know why they weren’t allowed entry while their counterparts in the Medicine department was allowed. This led to a peaceful protest by the students and some scientists.
On getting back to the Laboratory, the Medical Laboratory Science students noticed that these Medical Students were still in the Laboratory Premises and on getting to know why, some Resident Doctors in the Post Graduate Research Lab of Chemical Pathology Section became physical. They broke some flask and test tubes to attack the students with and some went as far throwing bucket full of sand on students and passers-by in the Laboratory corridor. While this was going on, the Resident Doctors self destructed some Laboratory equipment.
Nobody attached the doctors as was reported , they were the ones assaulting us at our duty posts and throwing broken test tubes at the medical laboratory interns. Some students and staff of the laboratory department scampered for safety following the stabbing of a 400 level student of the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Calabar, Miss Esther Umoh by a yet to be identified resident doctor.
Narrating her ordeal, Miss Umoh, who was seen limping, said she was beaten and hit with a stool by a resident doctor from Chemical Pathology Department of the hospital. She said ” After the protest, we were told to go back to our different units. As we were passing through the corridor, I saw resident doctors destroying equipments inside the lab and making a video of it. When one of them saw me, he broke a bottle inside the lab and stabbed me in the hand, and then used stool to hit me on my legs. Now I can’t walk. Others that were inside came out and started throwing bottles and other dangerous weapons at us. We had to run for cover, she said.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the protest, the Chairman, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), Agbor Owuna said ” I came to work this morning only to find armed policemen barricading the laboratory, preventing scientists from going inside the lab whereas doctors were allowed in”.
“We have been in a long battle for who is in charge of the lab because the resident doctors who are doctors on training by way of training come for posting in the lab, of recent are claiming to own the lab. They’re asking us out of the lab. So we came out and said no. We have communicated to management on this when we saw a circular sent to us that from 1st-5th September, no laboratory scientist should be found in the lab, that it’s the turn of residents to work and we begin to ask, who authorizes the resident doctors who are on training to be analysing patients’ samples and sending out results? Whereas we are the ones to do that and send the result to doctors to manage patients but the reverse is the case. They are coming with an ulterior motive. Why are you on training and the person who is suppose to train you primarily, should not be found there? We have written to management on this. We are putting it back to the world, is it now the duties of the doctors to be analysing patients samples?”
On this note, we request that proper investigation be launched and the offenders be brought to book.
Also, we request the management to call Resident Doctors to order and also instruct them to cease from harassing and abusing us so as to enable us carry out our duties in peace.
We want issues to be resolved and everyone be allowed to do what is rightfully their duty without fear of harassment or interference of any sort.
We call on the government and relevant authorities to intervene in this matter. The medical doctors should be called to order and stop lording over every other healthcare professionals. Today you see them fighting the nurses, tomorrow they fight the pharmacists .
The Nigerian healthcare industry is under threat because there can never be growth and development where things like this are allowed to thrive.