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.
Before now, people with such wounds were routinely rejected by hospitals because of the tendency of the police to harass and incriminate medical doctors and other medical personnel for treating them without obtaining clearance. The erroneous assumption by the police was that every gunshot victim might have been an armed robber, who escaped from the fusillade of their bullets.
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.”
It is a harrowing experience for families to lose their loved ones under such cold-blooded circumstances. One of such cases involved the late Bayo Ohu of The Guardian, who was shot in his Lagos home in 2009 by suspected assassins. The first hospital refused to admit him. By the time he was taken to a public hospital, he was pronounced dead. The death of Saka Saula, a former chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Lagos State chapter, followed the same pattern in 2008.
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.
The hospitals’ rejection of emergency cases of this nature verges on the abuse of the most important fundamental human right – the right to life, enshrined in Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. No one, the constitution emphasises, shall be deprived of it, save in the execution of capital offence, for which the person had been found guilty by the court.
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.
By doing so, the law will not be like any other legal instrument in the country, which is observed in the breach. In fact, if our society had been one of law and order, a new law to compel hospitals to save life under an emergency situation would have been needless. Apart from the constitution, The National Health Act 2014 had made a provision for this. In Section 20, it states partly: “A health care provider, health worker or health establishment shall not refuse a person on emergency medical treatment for any reason. An offender is liable to a fine of N100,000, a jail term of six months or both upon conviction.”
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.