By Yashim Katurak
Abuja – The Centre for the Right to Health (CRH), an NGO, has urged patients and their relatives who are aggrieved due to poor healthcare services in any health institution to use the complaint box in those facilities to seek redress.
Mrs Stella Iwuagwu, the CRH Executive Director, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
CRH is an organisation that works to ensure that the rights of patients are respected, protected and promoted at all times and in all health institutions in the country.
Iwuagwu said that aggrieved patients could also use the Servicom Desk within the premises of the health facility to table complaints and demand explanations or resolution as it was their right to do so.
She said that a patient could also write to the Chief Medical Director of the health facility where he or she was receiving services and action would be taken on any complaint made.
She said that complaints could also be sent to regulatory bodies or agencies such as the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Hospital Management Board of health facilities and the Human Rights Commission.
“There are lots of channels and avenues for patients to express their grievances in the event of a breach of the rights of such patient. Every hospital has a complaint box within its premises; an aggrieved patient can write and drop a complaint in the box.
“There is also a Servicom desk within the hospital premises, complaints can be laid there and it will be attended to.
“An aggrieved patient can also write to the Chief Medical Director of the hospital or health facility and action will be taken.
“Complaints can also be sent to regulatory bodies or agencies for example, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria is responsible for instilling discipline among doctors, complaints of infractions on patient’s rights can be channelled to the hospital management board of the health institution where services are being rendered.
“The National Human Rights Commission is there, the Nigerian Bar Association can be approached, Public Complaints Commission is there too, even our own Centre ‘CRH’ can be approached and once there is merit in the case, we will take it up.
“The court is also there; a dissatisfied patient who feels aggrieved can file a law suit in court if he or she has sufficient evidence, justice will be served,” she said.
Iwuagwu however pointed out that the judicial system was still slow in delivering justice in Nigeria.
She said that the organisation would continue to create awareness and sensitise the public on their rights as patients and how to protect it.
She said that such sensitisation has been done in urban and rural areas with the production and distribution of materials on Patients’ Rights in various local languages to reach individuals who could not read or understand English.
The CRH executive director flayed the low level of public sensitisation on the “Patients’ Bill of Rights” since it was launched by the Federal Government in 2018.
She said that many Nigerians, including health service providers, were still unaware about its existence as resource allocation to implement and enforce the Act has been lacklustre.
Iwuagwu therefore called on the National Orientation Agency, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Information to double efforts towards ensuring proper sensitisation and awareness creation on the bill.
NAN recalls that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in July 2018, launched the Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR), which was developed by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).
The PBoR is an aggregation of patients’ rights which are enshrined in the constitution, and covered by the Consumer Protection Council Act, Freedom of Information Act and the National Health Act.
The document spells out the patient’s right to information, urgent medical intervention, secure healthcare environment, to be treated with respect and timely access to medical records which must be treated with confidentiality.
The Bill guarantees the fair treatment of patients and that every patient can make his own medical decisions.
It also seeks to eliminate quacks in the country’s healthcare sector as it will serve as a weapon in the hand of patients to demand better healthcare services.
The 12 rights every patient is entitled to, according to the bill, include right to relevant information, right to timely access to medical records, right to transparent billing and right to privacy.
Others are right to clean healthcare environment, right to be treated with respect, right to receive urgent care, right to reasonable visitation and the right to decline care.
The bill also stated that patients have the right to decline or accept to participate in medical research, right to quality care and right to complain and express dissatisfaction regarding services received, among others. (NAN)
By Yashim Katurak