Nigeria launches initiative to protect patients’ rights

From left: Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Health, Prof. Issac Adewole; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Director-General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera; Chairman, Board of Directors, CPC, Emmanuel Nwankpa; and Country Director, World Health Organization, Mr Ress Mpazi, during the launch of the ‘Patients' Bill of Rights’, at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Abuja on Tuesday (31/7/18). 04114/31/7/2018/Ibrahim Sumaila/BJO/NAN
From left: Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Health, Prof. Issac Adewole; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Director-General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera; Chairman, Board of Directors, CPC, Emmanuel Nwankpa; and Country Director, World Health Organization, Mr Ress Mpazi, during the launch of the ‘Patients' Bill of Rights’, at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Abuja on Tuesday (31/7/18). 04114/31/7/2018/Ibrahim Sumaila/BJO/NAN

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said the newly launched Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR) will translate into new standards of quality, equity and dignity in patients’ experience in healthcare in Nigeria.

On Tuesday, while speaking at the launch of the PBoR, which was organised by the Consumer Protection Council and the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Osinbajo said the bill will stand as a bridge of dignity ”that links the right to life of an individual and minimum standards of healthcare”.

“The preeminent human right is the right to life. But the right to life is a hollow platitude where life itself is without respect for the dignity of the individual.

“The Patients’ Bill of Right is the bridge of dignity that links the right to life and minimum standards of healthcare that all of us deserve just by being human beings.

“In every step we take to improve the way our people are treated, we are individually and collectively ennobled. Respect for the dignity of one person, one patient dignifies us all.

“I would go on to argue that this deference to the supremacy of human dignity is the responsibility not only of medical personnel, but everyone in the healthcare value chain: government, regulators, insurers, administrators, family and/or primary caregivers, and even the final consumer. Mutual respect helps ensure that interactions build confidence, enhance care and improve outcomes,” he said.

Mr Osinbajo described the bill as a remarkable effort at consensus and common purpose, in the face of the many challenges of our healthcare system in Nigeria.

He said, “It cuts out the noise and distractions, and focuses on what is truly most important: putting people first. It serves as a code of accountability, constantly reminding us of the primary purpose of the healthcare system, and of the obligations of every player and stakeholder in that system. It helps clarify consumers’ expectations of providers and the providers’ responsibilities to consumers.”

On funding the health sector, the vice president mentioned that the 2o18 budget allocates 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund towards the funding of key health initiatives, in compliance with the National Health Act.

Meanwhile, the Director General of the CPC, Babatunde Irukera, said protecting rights in the healthcare sector is of particular importance and a defining feature of how society should, and must operate.

“Needing medical attention is many times the most vulnerable or weakest point for both patient, and many times family. It necessarily connotes desperation, and a combination of these lead to significant impairment in decision making and exposure to abuse and exploitation.

“How people are treated at that time of need; through that process, including after it, are features in measuring the quality and values of society and attention to our shared humanity,” he said.

“Today, we take a definite step in ensuring peoples’ rights in the healthcare sector are truly respected and protected in part because no one in our country is insulated or immunised from needing medical services.”

He added that the comfort and life expectancy of human beings are in part determined by the quality and delivery of healthcare services.

“Indeed, there are standards, and there are examples of those who operate above those standards, and some who even gave their lives for the standards, such as heroes and heroines like late Dr. Stella Adadevoh (Ebola saga) and some of her colleagues who have paid the utmost sacrifice in saving the lives of others.

“Yet, there are many, who unqualified, pass themselves off as professionals, and others, who though qualified do not know, nor live up to applicable standards. This PBoR will assist healthcare professionals and professional associations to identify and eliminate these quacks, and educate those who are qualified, but unaware of their obligations and the rights of their patients,” Mr Irukera said.

The event was also attended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole; the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire; a representative of the World Health Organisation, among others.

The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Francis Faduyile, who was represented by the first vice president, Kenneth Tijo, pledged that members of his association would stand by the bill to make it a success. He also thanked the federal government for creating an enabling environment.

The PBoR addresses access to information, patient related information, fee related information, confidentiality, quality of care, access to emergency care, patients’ dignity, visitation, patients’ refusal of care, interruption of service by provider and generally, complaints.


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