• Says bill is a cancer risk

Alike Ejiofor

A senior lecturer in the Department of Radiography and Radiological Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Dr. Anthony Ugwu has called on the National Assembly not to pass the National Council on Radiology and Radiation Medicine (NCR ) Bill into law, describing it as highly unfortunate and inconsistent with natural growth, especially at a time Nigerian radiographers were being made consultants all over the world.

In a statement released at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, shortly before his recent departure to Zimbabwe, where he was recently appointed external examiner to the radiology department of University of Zimbabwe, Ugwu wondered why the federal government would entertain a bill that would take radiography training and practice in Nigeria back to the Stone Age.

He stated that in an environment riddled with rancor and bitterness, patient care would suffer superlative setback if the bill is passed into law, adding that the legislation is a cancer risk in the country.

According to him, the bill is a legislative plagiarism that could jeopardise clinical peace in this country and impugn patient care.

“It is like encouraging somebody to pull down his brother’s house, dismantle the blocks from where he now takes blocks to build his own house,” Ugwu said.

“If this bill is passed and signed into law, the organization structure nationwide would also be in disarray as a result of the attendant acrimony and quacks will cash in on this lacuna to be dispensing ionising radiations especially in private centres. This would obviously increase cancer risk in Nigeria,” he added.

“Radiography is the father of Radiology having started first and it amounts to revisionism if we create a scenario that would depict otherwise. Radiography is an independent professional body and regulated in Nigeria by Radiographers Registration Board of Nigeria (RRBN), while Radiology is an arm of the Medical Profession under the auspices of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). In UK, these bodies are under the regulatory framework of Heath Care and Professional Council, and General Medical Council, respectively. Creating an omnibus council which would not only bring two different and obviously overlapping professional bodies together but makes the father (radiography) appear like an appendage to the son (radiology) would amount to a clinical harakiri and an administrative seppuku.

“Radiologists predominantly have their first degrees and post-graduate fellowships. Radiographers are not only poised to start their Nigerian and West African Fellowships like their colleagues in Nursing, Pharmacy and Medical Laboratory Sciences, but many radiographers also have Masters and Doctorate degrees. It would amount to revisionism if someone who has the highest degree in learning (PhD) is put perpetually under another person who obviously could be his student,” Ugwu explained.

He said the NCR Bill had worsened the frosty relationship between radiography and radiologist. According to him, radiographers have long been agitating for their own department to enable them have a place in the hospital organisational chart.

Ugwu, who is Africa’s pioneer researcher in gut Sonography, however, noted that this professional right has been denied by previous health ministers, who are predominantly medical doctors.

“This denial of professional right to an autonomous profession is only being suffered by radiographers among all other health professionals in this country. The attachment of radiographers as appendages to the radiology department may have given the Machiavellian proponents of the NCR Bill the impression that the government hates radiographers and would always dance to the tunes of the enemies of radiographers. I use this opportunity to call on the federal executive council to direct the ministry of health to generate memos in this regard to all chief executives of federal health institutions. The sincerity and moral ingenuity of Mr.

President and the jurisprudential acumen of the Vice President are reliable as they are consistent. Nigerians who believe in equity are expecting the National Universities Commission (NUC) and our honorable Parliamentarians to come up with policy directions and bills which would address all these lopsidedness and convince every Nigerian that our country is not George Orwell’s animal farm where all animals are equal but some are more equal than others,” Ugwu explained.