Laboratory experts warn government of bio-terrorism threat
The Guild said terrorists were gradually adopting the release of harmful micro organisms into food and water to cause harm to human beings, warning that of the need for concerned agencies of government to live up to the new threat.
Chairman, Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors (FCT Branch), Mr. Mkpanam Ekanem, who led a team to The Guardian, Abuja Bureau, noted that one of the major ways to ensure control was to ensure that medical laboratories are manned by licensed and authorised personnel.
“Employing unqualified personnel easily leads to infiltration by terrorists and should be frowned against. This does not only lead to quackery and its attendant loss of life, terrorists can exploit it. It is attractive to terrorists because it is cheap and easy to acquire,” he noted.
Making copious reference to the situation in the North East, he stressed that Nigeria needed to prepare for bioterrorism.
He noted: “What bioterrorists want is how they can kill so many people at the same time. That is what makes news and that is what they want. So, if the government doesn’t look into that part of it now sometimes someday it will come to be with us.”
“If you look at something like Ebola, Nigeria was very lucky because it came through the airport and through a diplomat and if Ebola had come through land routes it would have been extremely more difficult for us in this country because when the man collapsed the first thing would have been that people would have gathered to pour water on him, and then after that they would have taken him to church to lay hands and pray and everybody who laid hands would have contacted it.”
On the kind of regulation the body wants government to put in place, he stressed: “First and foremost, let the professionals be the one who man the labs and let the labs be registered, licensed and authorized. You know you can be licensed without being authorized.
For instance an intern who just came out of school is a medical lab scientists but is not authorized to work on his own because the responsibilities is not there to handle and he doesn’t know how to handle that responsibility. Therefore, the government has to ensure that such things are taken care of. Seventy per cent of the population in Nigeria access their health through the private sector. 70 per cent access it there and so if you want to really fight bio-terrorism in Nigeria, the private sector has to be taken along.”
He further urged government to step in and ensure that only licensed and authorised personnel bring in agents and distribute same.