House Urges FG to Enforce Sanctions on Hospitals Rejecting Accident, Gunshot Victims

.Urges agency for the disabled to monitor compliance with enabling laws

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Ministry of Health to enforce regulations prohibiting hospitals from denying or delaying emergency medical care to victims of accidents or gunshot wounds without a police report and impose appropriate sanctions and penalties.

It also urged the ministry and its regulatory authorities to take immediate and decisive action to address the issue of hospitals and healthcare facilities refusing to victims without a police report.

Consequently, the lawmakers urged the Federal Ministry of Information, through the National Orientation Agency (NOA), to organise an awareness campaign to educate the public, hospitals, and healthcare professionals about the necessity of immediate medical assistance for accident or gunshot victims.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion on the Need for Drastic action against Health Facilities Refusing Treatment for Accident or Gunshot Patients without Police Reports moved by Hon. Odianosen Okojie at plenary yesterday.

Okojie noted that the provisions of Section 1 of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017 provides that every hospital is to receive and treat victims of gunshot wounds with or without police clearance and/or payment of an initial deposit.

He argue that they are duty-bound to report to the nearest police station within hours of commencing treatment on the victim.

According to him, “Section 7 of the Act states that: “Any authority or person whose omission results in the unnecessary death of a gunshot victim shall be liable to imprisonment for five years or a fine in the sum of N500, 000 or both

“Aware that immediate medical attention is crucial for survival and quality of life for accident or gunshot victims, and hospitals and healthcare facilities have an ethical and legal obligation to preserve human life regardless of the circumstances.

“Despite the Act providing for the compulsory treatment and care for victims of gunshots by hospitals in the country, there are rising cases of medical personnel refusing to treat victims due to absence of doctors’ reports.”

The lawmaker recalled that patients requiring emergency medical treatment due to accidents or gunshot injuries usually face denial or delayed access to healthcare services if they fail to present a police report

“Many victims of accidents or gunshots are unable to obtain a police report promptly, given the severity of their injuries, the absence of law enforcement at the scene, or other relevant factors beyond their control.

“The refusal of hospitals to treat patients without a police report is a direct violation of the principles of medical ethics, professional conduct, and the universal right of individuals to access healthcare, and this discriminatory practice disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations, such as minorities and the poor, who are more likely to experience higher rates of accidents or gun related incidents

“Existing laws and regulations do not explicitly prohibit hospitals from refusing treatment to accident or gunshot victims without a police report, thereby perpetuating the unjust practices,” the lawmaker stated.

However, the House mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure compliance and report back within four weeks for further legislative actions.

Meanwhile, the House has urged the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) to revive compliance activities of the commission, look into the affected grey areas and actively operationalise the working framework of the Act accordingly.

It also urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to encourage constant advocacy and outreach to enlighten legislators and other decision makers on issues affecting persons with disabilities.

The House said this should involve the provision and making available relief materials and equipment to aid free mobility of persons with disabilities across the federation.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to Investigate the Regulatory Implementation and Compliance of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition)’ Act, 2018 moved by Hon. Ibrahim Muhammed at plenary yesterday.

Muhammed noted that the Act was established to fully integrate persons with disabilities into society and vested it with power to ensure their education, health care, social, economic, and civil rights.

He also noted that a person with disability has the right to access the physical environment and buildings on an equal basis with others and that a public building shall be constructed with the necessary accessibility aids, such as lifts (where necessary), ramps, and any other facility that shall make it accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

“Since the bill was signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari, there has been minimal adherence and compliance to the Act by government’s ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), private firms and bodies,” he said.

Muhammed expressed worry that new building plans are not scrutinised by the relevant authorities to ensure they meet the stated accessibility standards, thus making persons with disabilities go about their daily activities with fear of being injured, neglected, and discriminated against.

However, the House mandated its Committees on Disabilities, Safety Standards, Specialty Health Care, Human Rights, and Preparedness to ensure legislative compliance.

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