Facts have emerged as to why Lira District Health Department has ordered MBN Clinical Laboratories to close down its Lira branch.
The facility has been faulted for operating without a license from Allied Health Professional Council, a body mandated to register laboratories and technicians, in line with the Allied Health Professional Act CAP 268.
In his 22 May 2018 letter addressed to the managing director of MBN Clinical Laboratories, Dr. Patrick Buchan Ocen, the District Health Officer (DHO) for Lira also faulted MBN Clinical Laboratories for among others recruiting non-professional laboratory technicians to handle samples and asked the management to close shop.
“You are operating a standalone laboratory which should be supervised by a laboratory professional fully registered by Allied health professionals council and with experience of at least two years, however the staff you have on ground does not qualify to run this laboratory since she is less qualified,” the DHO’s letter read in part
Dr. Ocen accused MBN of constantly advertising its services on the various local FM stations, which is totally in contravention of the medical guidelines in this country. He said his office wrote to MBN on 17 May 2018 inviting them for a dialogue and to formulate their operations in the district but they ignored.
The DHO in his letter thus concluded ” We finally request you to close MBN clinical laboratories, Lira Branch until the Laboratory is reviewed by the district health supervisory authority and if approved be registered by the Allied Health Professionals Council, ministry of health. Take this letter seriously and act forthwith”
However, despite receiving the letter, the laboratory located in Junjor quarters and opposite Margharita Palace Hotel has remained open and continues to run normal business of testing and examine samples.
Its manager on the ground Rebecca Nkadu told TND News that they are operating within the law. MBN issued a press statement urging its clients to dismiss information that they faced closure.
A staff whom this news website will not name also intimated that they have a general license secured by the main branch in Kampala and wondered why the district was pestering them for a license
How trouble for MBN started
MBN came to the media domain when Musa Okelllo, a resident of Adyel division using his lawyer Makmot Kibwanga of Makmot and Company advocates wrote a letter of intention to sue over allegations that the laboratory tested him for HIV and declared him positive. He was then enrolled on the Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) but later, two different tests proved he did not have the virus.
This test was conducted on 9 May 2018 based on a referral note from Lira Regional referral hospital (LRRH). Immediately on 10 May, he started on ARVs from Lira Regional referral hospital.
Unconvinced with his status, Okello (35) then carried out two more tests, one at LRRH and another at Maries Stops clinic in Lira town. Both results reversed his status showing he is HIV negative. It is upon this background that Okello sought the services of lawyer Makmot Kibwanga.
“Your said actions have caused our client grave health complications and risks, mental anguish… You pay our client compensation of Ug.shs 100,000,000 (one hundred million shillings) as general damages,” Makmot’s intention to sue reads in part.
Despite the legal threat from Musa Okello, the laboratory management has stood by test results saying it cannot be held culpable arguing they only carried out tests on samples refereed to them by Lira Regional Referral Hospital. Attempts to ascertain the authenticity of this sample from the regional referral hospital has been futile.
MBN has since written to Makmot and Company Advocates, asking the law firm to restrain her client from what it describes as ‘false, malicious and baseless statements’ circulating in the media.
Using Lex Uganda Advocates and Solicitors, MBN warns Okello to stop tainting the laboratories image and accuses some district health managers of conspiring to bring down the laboratory.
Meanwhile repeated calls to Allied Health Professional Council to verify the registration status of MBN Clinical Laboratories went unanswered.