Kuni Tyessi, Abuja
For better results in the health sector and in promoting care-giver and patient relationship for optimum results, health workers, especially doctors, nurses and midwives need better orientation in the form of capacity building and must be taught that compassion and empathy does not cost anything.
Also, pharmacies and hospitals should endeavour to break the jinx of secrecy as it relates to drugs being administered to patients, as it is their right to know the names, dosage, side effects, and other information which may be relevant to the patient in respect to usage as patients pay for services but do not get them.
This was the stand of Dr. Stella Iwuagwu, a victim of the failed health system in Nigeria and the Executive Director of Centre for the Right to Health, a non-governmental organisation, during its press conference to announce the premiere of her documentary titled ‘Failed by Angels’.
She queried that every right of the patient and the health worker has been enshrined in the constitution, but the problem was that many do not have copies to serve as guide, and those who have it do not read them to be acquainted with their health rights.
As a result of this, Iwuagwu, said patients have been abused and maltreated in hospitals with the resultant effect leading to more complications, and in severe cases, death. Adding that, even the judiciary was handicapped in interpreting the constitution as many Nigerians do not report the cases of the wrongs done to them in hospitals and as such, the vicious cycle continues with no one being held accountable.
”The laws are there but the applications are missing. If patients or their relatives don’t report or take cases to the courts, the judiciary will not be able to apply the law. So Nigerians need to know what the law says and what the National Health Act says. The legislatures have done their part to quite some extent but as it is right now, the ball is in the court of the people. We will not get anywhere until people begin to report.”
In the same vein, she called for adequate measures to be taken in cases where caregivers are found wanting on the scale of irreversible damage such as paralysis or death.
“Most of the hospitals have something on paper but lack the will for implementation. So the staff need training and retraining, especially health record holders. A certain percentage from their salaries can be taken so that there is a financial consequence especially if a court case is involved, so that they can serve as deterrents to others and they will be forced to sit up.”
“There can also be suspension. Violators can be made to loose their practising license. They can also be made to do restitution among several others. There should be consequences and every institution should have that. They need to implement those and if their law needs an update, that should be done. In developed climes like the U.S., before a doctor opens a hospital, he must have a medical malpractice insurance.