Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology
Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
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Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology
Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
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2024, Jul 10

Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) plays a critical role in diagnostic laboratories, encompassing various applications and responsibilities that contribute to accurate diagnosis and effective patient care.

A point raised regarding the qualifications and training of graduates of Science Laboratory Technology (SLT), particularly those specializing in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Physiology, and Pharmacology is completely incorrect and misleading. It is therefore essential to clarify that these graduates (SLT) are indeed adequately trained and qualified to work in a variety of settings, including, educational institutions, industries (Health industries/facilities and research institutes, as stipulated by ACT 12, 2003.


Comprehensive Training of SLT Graduates

Graduates of SLT programs undergo rigorous training that equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary for a broad spectrum of professional environments:

  1. Educational Institutions: SLT graduates possess the scientific foundation and practical skills required to teach and support scientific education at both secondary and post-secondary levels.
  2. Industrial Applications: Their training in microbiological, biochemical, and physiological techniques makes them valuable assets in industries such as food and beverage production, environmental monitoring, and Health/pharmaceuticals.
  3. Health and Pharmaceutical Industries: SLT graduates are proficient in conducting various diagnostic tests and analysis crucial for patient care and drug development, aligning with the competencies outlined in ACT 12, 2003.
  4. Research Institutes: Their strong background in scientific research methods allows them to contribute significantly to scientific investigations and advancements in various fields.


Understanding the Scope of Diagnostics

It appears there might be some misconceptions regarding the scope and capabilities of SLT graduates. Diagnostics is a multifaceted word/field that extends beyond the immediate interpretation of laboratory results. It encompasses the maintenance and calibration of diagnostic equipment, the application of diverse scientific techniques, and the integration of multidisciplinary knowledge to ensure accurate and reliable laboratory results. SLT graduates are trained to meet these demands comprehensively.

For the avoidance of doubt, the following are the Applications of Science Laboratory Technology in Diagnostic Laboratories as contained in the training curriculum;

  1. Clinical Chemistry/Biochemistry: SLT is used to analyze blood and other body fluids to measure the levels of various chemicals and compounds. (This helps in diagnosing conditions such as diabetes, liver diseases, and kidney disorders).
  2. Hematology: Involves the study of blood, blood-forming organs, and blood diseases. SLT techniques are used to count and classify blood cells, detect abnormalities, and monitor the effectiveness of treatments.
  3. Microbiology: SLT is essential for identifying and studying microorganisms that cause infections. This includes culturing samples, identifying pathogens, and determining their antibiotic sensitivity.

Different DNA extraction methods, gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction techniques, primer design, overview of DNA cloning; plasmids and episomes; cultivation of bacteria and yeast cells under aerobic and anaerobic conditions; cultivation of microalgae (Chlorella sorokiniana); protoplast isolation and genetic recombination by protoplast fusion. (NUC CCMAS, page 768). Staining techniques, antibiotic sensitivity tests, serological tests, antimicrobial agents. (NUC CCMAS, page 689).  Diagnostic use of NMR in medicine (NUC CCMAS, page 703, 705, 706), among others.

  1. Immunology and Serology: Techniques in SLT are used to detect antibodies and antigens in patient samples, aiding in the diagnosis of infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and allergies.
  2. Molecular Diagnostics: Involves techniques such as PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and DNA sequencing to detect genetic mutations, infectious agents, and other molecular markers.
  3. Pathology and Histology: SLT is used to prepare and analyze tissue samples to detect abnormalities, such as cancerous cells, and to study disease progression.
  4. Cytology: The study of cells from various body sites to detect cancer and other conditions. SLT is used to prepare cell samples for examination under a microscope.

Introduction and history of physiology. Structure and functions of cell membranes. Transport process. Special transport mechanism in amphibian bladder, kidney, gall bladder, intestine, astrocytes and exocrine glands. Biophysical principles. Homeostasis and control systems including temperature regulation. Biological rhythms. Composition and functions of blood haemopoiesis. WBC and differential count. Plasma proteins, coagulation fibrinolysis and platelet functions. Blood groups –ABO system – Rh system – blood transfusion – indication for collection and storage of blood, hazards of blood transfusions. Reticulo- endothelial system. Immunity and Immunodeficiency disease and HIV. (NUC CCMAS, page 692)

  1. Medical Physics:  SLT graduate of Physics with Electronics are also adequately trained to specialize as Medical Physicist working with Diagnostic equipment such MIR, X-Ray, Fluoroscopy, CT scan, Mammography etc which are diagnostic equipment which the curriculum of MLS did not cover.   You may wish to check page 688 of the NUC CCMAS.  Iimaging techniques, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasound, Instrumentation in respect of imaging, diagnostic and therapeutic machines;


Roles of Science Laboratory Technologists/Laboratory Scientists in Diagnostic Laboratories

  1. Sample Collection and Preparation: Collecting, labeling, and preparing patient samples for analysis, ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the samples.
  2. Conducting Tests and Experiments: Performing a wide range of laboratory tests and experiments using specialized equipment and techniques to obtain accurate diagnostic results.
  3. Quality Control and Assurance: Implementing and maintaining quality control procedures to ensure the reliability and accuracy of test results. This includes calibrating equipment, running control samples, and troubleshooting issues.
  4. Data Analysis and Interpretation: Analyzing test results, interpreting data, and collaborating with medical professionals to provide accurate diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
  5. Equipment Maintenance and Calibration: Regularly maintaining, calibrating, and troubleshooting laboratory equipment to ensure it functions correctly and produces reliable results.
  6. Research and Development: Participating in research projects to develop new diagnostic tests and improve existing techniques. This includes staying updated with the latest scientific advancements and technological innovations.
  7. Compliance and Safety: Ensuring that laboratory operations comply with regulatory standards and safety protocols to protect staff and patients from potential hazards.
  8. Documentation and Reporting: Accurately documenting all laboratory procedures, test results, and quality control activities. Reporting findings to the relevant healthcare providers and maintaining patient records.
  9. Education and Training: Training and supervising junior laboratory staff and students. Keeping up-to-date with continuing education to stay current with new techniques and advancements in the field.

It is vital to recognize the broad and comprehensive training that SLT graduates receive, which equips them to work competently across various sectors. Science Laboratory Technology is indispensable in diagnostic laboratories, providing the foundation for accurate and timely diagnoses. The technologists' expertise and meticulous work ensure that healthcare providers can make informed decisions, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

A pertinent issue that warrants discussion is the focus of Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) on Equipment Repairs and Maintenance workshops. What a misplacement of priority and wasting Nigeria government funds.  This is the definition of Quackery and deception.    (That is, MLS deceiving the government to spend huge and scare resources on a project that ACT 11 2003 does not cover.  This should be investigated. It is essential to recognize that the training of MLS does not typically encompass Physics with Electronics, an area in which SLT graduates excel. SLT programs include coursework and practical experience in equipment maintenance and calibration, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared to handle such tasks effectively.

It should therefore be noted also that MLS does not have any lawful right to regulate Science Laboratories and activities in Nigeria in accordance with (Section 4 H) of the The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria ACT 11 2003 as amended, (inspect, regulate and accredit medical laboratories);

You are therefore strongly advised to desist from misleading and misinforming the general public with your very narrow understanding of the word DIAGNOSTICS and the scope of Science Laboratory Technology.

I hope this clarifies the competencies and qualifications of SLT graduates. It is crucial that we base our discussions and decisions on informed perspectives to ensure the continued advancement and integrity of our scientific community.


Peter Adefisoye OLUWAFISOYE is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology and the Director, Education, Training and Inspectorate.


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Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology