Obey Judgment Stopping Compulsory Blood Donation, SERAP Tells Sanwo-Olu

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Sanwo-Olu

Tobi Soniyi

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called on Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to immediately obey Monday’s court judgment ordering all hospitals in the state to stop the practice of mandating husbands to donate blood as a condition for their pregnant wives to access ante-natal care.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, who described the practice as “unconscionable, arbitrary, unfair and a violation of Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution,” which guarantees citizens’ right to life”.

In order to ensure compliance with the judgment, SERAP has now followed up with a letter to Sanwo-Olu.

In the letter dated March 3, 2020, the group urged the governor to use his leadership position to “instruct the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi to immediately, fully and effectively enforce the judgment

It said: “The enforcement of the judgment will be a special moment for the implementation of the government’s strategies towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as it will improve the chances of everyone including women during and after childbirth, and ensure quality health services, which will contribute to the promotion of these goals.

“As Justice Adebiyi stated in her judgment, your enforcement of the judgment will be consistent with Section 33 of Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), which guarantees the right to life; and articles 2(a),3 and 12(1) of the International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which requires the health system including in Lagos State to provide equal opportunity for everyone. Nigeria has ratified the covenant.”

SERAP claimed that enforcing the judgment would also show Lagos State as a champion of the SDGs and be entirely consistent with international standards and best practices, including those developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which recognize that the safest blood donors are voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

The WHO has in fact recommended that no coercion should be brought to bear upon the donor to donate.

The letter read in part: “The effective enforcement of the judgment will also improve maternal health, comply with WHO’s policy to improve the availability and use of safe blood to save the lives of women during and after childbirth, as well as ensure universal access to safe blood transfusion particularly for patients that are vulnerable to blood shortages and to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, in support of the SDGs.

“The judgment in suit number ID/2759GCM/2018 also ordered the Lagos State Government to immediately stop and discontinue the policy of insisting on compulsory blood donations from patients or relatives of those seeking medical care and attention before accessing ante-natal, maternal or any health services in all public hospitals and health facilities in Lagos State.

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in instructing Professor Abayomi to enforce and implement the judgment by Justice Adebiyi’s judgment.

“We look forward to working with you, Professor Abayomi and the Lagos State Ministry of Health in the efforts to enforce and implement the judgment. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”