BY NKIRU ODINKEMELU
Eighty-four years after the Nigerian Anatomy Act was introduced, the Anatomical Society of Nigeria (ASN) said it was time to amend the act to meet with its 21st century needs.
To get this done, no fewer than 400 Anatomists from 55 private and public universities offering anatomy converged at Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo for their 14th Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The chairman of the local organizing committee, Professor Jide Desalu, who disclosed this earlier at a briefing, said there was an urgent need for the society to close ranks and see to the amendment of the anatomy act.
He said unless the standard is raised, anatomists in Nigeria cannot really move on.
His words: “The Anatomy act has never been significantly amended for over 80 years. Civilization has greatly advanced and education has purposefully advanced, these among other factors show us that the Anatomy Act requires immediate attention and a conscientious effort to amend it to meet the needs of 21st century.”
Dr. Desalu who doubles as the first Anatomist in Nigeria and now Head of Department, Department of Anatomy, Babcock stressed that there were so many illegality on Anatomy which needed to be reviewed.
“I don’t know how people have been faring in Nigeria, teaching anatomy without a subsisting act, which means a lot of things have been going on in Nigeria on illegal bases. I doubt if any medical school apart from Ibadan that started it obeyed any law that is related to using human body in dissection.”
This is even as he noted that Nigerians unlike their counterparts in the UK do not donate their bodies for scientific research, pointing out that the bodies they currently use for teaching are basically unclaimed bodies.
He however affirmed that even at this, those dead bodies have rights, so should not just be used like animals.
Noting that, “during the conference, we are going to have an act being reviewed for us by which the ministry of health will have overall control of how bodies are donated for medical students to dissect. They must set up a council that will be controlled by a body that will have laws that will tell you precisely who can dissect human body and must also have a register of where these bodies come from, the age, sex and the cause of death.”
This is also an important step to get accurate records and ensure that the person whose body they are dissecting did not die of any infectious disease that will affect the person dissecting it.
To achieve the goal of the conference, the association wisely chose majority leader of the House of Representative, Hon. Femi Gbajabimila as the keynote speaker for the event. A retired United Nations Organisation’s official, Professor Oladapo Walker and an official of the federal ministry of health, Mr. Wole Afolayan would also deliver lead papers at the two plenary sessions.
While Gbajabiamila would lecture on Anatomy Act: What Next? The Senator is expected to put them through on how to get their act amended and push for its passage into law. Professor Walker, now at Babcock University would dwell on “Anatomy as a basic medical science: Re-positing for cutting edge research and innovation”, while Mr. Afolayan will speak on “Anatomy in the context of the global sustainable development goals”.