Poor funding affects quality of laboratory services

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Medical laboratory scientists have been forced to re-use medical test tubes, run laboratory tests without controls and split medical test strips into two with  scissors in order to serve more patients at the expense of the quality of laboratory tests.

The situation is the result of delays in paying part of the national health insurance tariff to hospitals to fund their medical laboratories.

The President the Ghana Association of Biomedical Laboratory Scientists, Mr Prince Sodoke Amuzu, stated this at a media encounter which was part of the activities marking this year’s World Laboratory Science Day.

This year’s event is scheduled to take place on April 15, 2013.

The media encounter was aimed at educating journalists on the role of the biomedical laboratory scientist in the health service.

Mr Amuzu said medical laboratory scientists owed society a duty to use biomedical laboratory science for the benefit of humanity to enhance healthcare delivery.

However, he said most medical laboratories in the country lacked funds and adequate supplies of medical laboratory equipment and reagents to enhance their work.

“Many hospitals run short of medical laboratory supplies regularly, leaving some practitioners in a dilemma and leading to attempts to economise consumables,” he said.

Mr Amuzu said hospital management and procurement teams did not always seek the inclusion of qualified biomedical laboratory scientists when taking decisions concerning the provision of quality healthcare reagents and equipment.

He indicated that laboratory services were poorly understood, for which reason management turned to poorly fund the service, leading to poor quality health care.
“Suppliers lack the assistance of qualified professionals in selecting and evaluating medical laboratory products. Products of questionable quality sell cheaper and so they normally get widely used in the country,” he noted.

Mr Amuzu added that the association had decided to dialogue with the National Health Insurance Authority for a review of the bundle and capitation modules as they related to the provision of medical laboratory services.