The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) is a Federal Government Statutory Regulatory Agency established by Act 11 of 2003 as a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Health. It also broadly charged the Council with the core responsibilities of regulating medical laboratory services through registration and licensing of medical laboratories as well as practitioners, mandatory inspection, mentoring for quality improvement, accreditation, monitoring and evaluation as well as certification of laboratory test kits and reagents. Furthermore, the Act empowers the Council to regulate the training of medical laboratory scientists, technicians and assistants.
With the benefit of hindsight, stakeholders in the field of medical laboratory services agree that, by enacting the MLSCN Act No.11, the Government proved to be alert to its environment and sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian public most of whom had been calling for fresh statutory instruments and, therefore, greater impetus towards rejuvenating as well as regulating the sector. This, the stakeholders believe, would enable the sector to deliver on its mandate- regulation for quality medical laboratory services that are both fit for purpose and also in line with global best practices.
Indeed, before Act 11 of 2003 came on board and led the way for the recrudescence of medical laboratory services, practice and education in the country, the sector was groaning under the full weight of quacks who, quite astonishingly, felt that such a regulated sector, which is the backbone of modern healthcare, was equally an all-comers business besides the menace of fake laboratory test kits, reagents as well as chemicals. Thus there was palpable outrage among the people that rogue elements could, without any form of training and in total disregard for the sanctity of human life, open and operate backroom shacks devoid of basic equipment, and without any modicum of expertise, and call them medical laboratories. Needless to say that results generated in such places were not worth the paper they were written on.
The collateral damage included loss of public confidence in medical laboratory services across the country to the extent that some patients sought succor from herbal medicine or self medication, while those with the wherewithal exited the country to seek what they perceived to be more reliable diagnosis in India, South Africa, United Kingdom, the United States of America and so on. This is the trend that the present Management of Council had sought to stem and reverse.