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YOU NEWS Editorial : Journalist who was shot could be alive,.. Doctors, read the laws

Precious could still have been alive if he received emergency treatments from the gunshot. He was rushed to a few hospitals in the area but was denied treatments by the hospitals

This handsome young Nigerian Journalist died from a gunshot injury.

Health officers should be aware of the Law assented to by mr president sometimes ago.

An editorial had captured it effectively…

It is now an offence for hospitals to deny gunshot victims treatment in the country with President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to a bill earlier passed by the National Assembly to this effect. The Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017, which came into effect on the eve of 2018, ensures that no police report is needed by any medical facility to admit a victim. The law is a welcome development and underscores the sanctity of life.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, both public and private hospitals are involved in the implementation of the law; and a victim should be given immediate and adequate treatment whether there is a cash deposit or not. He said, “Further, a person with gunshot wound shall not be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment or torture by any person or authority, including the police and other security agencies.”

A former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, had to re-issue a statement on this matter in 2015, which charged his officers not to harass Nigerians and good Samaritans in this regard, just as he reminded doctors that they were “equally duty bound to treat victims’ wounds and further inform police of relevant facts.” Unfortunately, this never changed anything. It was why Christopher Ojiaka died in Port Harcourt in November 2017, after two hospitals refused to admit him, following gunshot injuries at a bank ATM.

What seems obvious is the fact that the fear of police harassment is not the only obstacle to the enforcement of this life-saving law, but the profit motive of hospitals. As an emergency, the victim or the Good Samaritan that may rush him/her to a health facility may not have any ready cash to deposit. This is a disincentive that readily comes into play. For this reason, an elaborate public enlightenment on the details of the Gunshot Act is imperative, especially on the penalties for its violation by hospitals, doctors, nurses and the police. 

Consequently, all Nigerians should be abreast of these laws, so that legal remedies could be sought against individuals and institutions whose actions might lead to avoidable deaths under these gruesome circumstances of gun shots. Many doctors have forgotten their Hippocratic Oath; and they need to be reminded of it through legal sanctions.
Punch Editorial.

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