Maltreatment Of Patients: NHRC Vows To Prosecute Erring Hospitals

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has said it would henceforth prosecute hospitals and medical practitioners over any alleged unprofessional conduct. Consequently, the commission has implored Nigerians to report to it, cases of maltreatment or negligence by both private and public health care centres in the country.

Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof Ben Angwe, who made the call during the official launch of a research report on Human Rights and Maternal Mortality, said it was high time hospitals were made to pay for every act of negligence suffered by their patients. Angwe said he was shocked to discover that some women were evicted from their hospital bed to the corridor, “barely an hour after they gave birth.”

According to him, “that kind of thing is highly unacceptable in a country which not only recognises human rights of its citizens, but also respects them.“ He said the commission, in the course of its pilot study on women’s access to health care facilities in the six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory, also found out that over 90 babies that died shortly after birth, were abandoned in a mortuary by their parents.

He said it was disheartening for the commission to discover that sundry inhumane treatment are meted out on patients, especially pregnant women, in both private and public hospitals. The report focused on the six area councils of the FCT, where a total of 96 hospitals/healthcare facilities, comprising 51 primary, 43 private and government secondary and two tertiary healthcare institutions were surveyed.

Angwe said: “We are using this opportunity to urge Nigerians to report any unprofessional treatment they suffered in the hands of medical practitioners to us. “If a medical practitioner is alleged to have committed an act of negligence, that person must be prosecuted. We need cooperation to bring quack doctors that are busy killing people to Justice.”

Among stakeholders at the unveiling of the report yesterday were wives of the Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs. Omobolanle Olonisakin and the Inspector-General of Police, Mrs. Agharase Arase. The duo who are Presidents of Defence and Police Officers Wives Association, DEPOWA, and Police Officers’ Wives Association, POWA, bemoaned plights of pregnant women in the country who they said are badly treated by health officials in the hospitals.

Describing maternal mortality as a major challenge to gender equality, the NHRC boss said the magnitude of its incidence in Nigeria typified a form of social injustice against women. “Medical personnel who has been confirmed to have done an act of negligence will have to pay compensation. If it involves institution, the institution will make the victim become rich.
“It is only in Nigeria that a practitioner will be responsible for the death of a person and nothing happens and the personnel will continue his practice without losing his license.

“The tragedy of maternal and child death lies in the fact that that most of these deaths can be prevented if only all pregnant women have access to adequate ante natal care, skilled attendant at child birth, emergency obstetric care when pregnancy related complications arise and appropriate post natal care for mother and babies” Angwe noted.

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