CPC, in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health, launches Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR)
His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (middle), the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole (third left), the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire (second left), Chairman, Technical Committee of the Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR), Dr.Ben Anyene (left), the Director General, Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera (fourth from right), the Chairman, Governing Board of the Consumer Protection Council, Barr. Emeka Nwankpa (third from right), the country representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Rex Mpazanje (second from right), and member, House of Representative, Honourable Solomon Maren, representing the Chairman, House Committee on Commerce, Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga.
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Federal Ministry of Health launched the Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR) on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja. The event was hosted by His Excellency, the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, who was also the Keynote Speaker and the Chief Launcher of the PBoR.
The PBoR is a watershed in the codification of the rights and responsibilities of patients and providers within the Nigerian healthcare ecosystem. The document aggregates the rights of patients, which already exist in multiple professional ethical codes and pieces of legislation, including the Child Rights Act, Constitution, Consumer Protection Council Act, Freedom of Information Act, National Health Act, and the Hippocratic Oath.
In his welcome address, the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, noted that the key focus of the Council’s activities is guided by stakeholder engagements and collaborations, emphasising that it is underscored by “the fundamental principles of putting people first, and promoting clear and stable regulation,” both of which were captured in the PBoR effort.
“This is an example of what has become the abiding theme of the CPC in how we engage with other regulators, stakeholders and entities. That theme is “Partnership for Protection”. There is absolutely no better space for this partnership than in the healthcare of our nation, and there is no better place to reinforce it than at the very seat of power, under the leadership of the Vice President,” he stated.
Mr. Irukera stressed the importance and place of the respect for human dignity especially at the most vulnerable of times - when the patient requires healthcare services.
In his words, “we at CPC recognise that for any meaningful change to occur, patients and their families must become conversant with their rights and responsibilities; and providers must be familiar with their roles and duties to patients. It is in that demand and supply side awareness and education; as well as enforcement, that we can change the sad perception, or narrative, and in the process, save lives and build mutual confidence. This is what underpins our “Demand and Insist Campaign”- to empower consumers in ensuring they are better served.”
Describing the PBoR as a “ground-breaking effort to promote Quality, Equality and Dignity in healthcare (QED, “quod erat demonstrandum”),” the Director General highlighted the benefit of the PBoR to the healthcare ecosystem.
He noted that “The PBoR is our boldest step yet in soft infrastructure in healthcare. It is the vital vehicle upon which, even physical infrastructure must ride to truly deliver service. In the absence of a humane, attentive and secure approach by healthcare professionals, we neglect inclusiveness, and in reality, lessen access.”
The Director General concluded his address by emphasising to participants that the PBoR, “represents a point where we set a new culture for ourselves. It is now up to us to ensure the culture survives. We must preach, practice and defend it, only then will it perpetrate and perpetuate.”
In his remarks, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, speaking through his representative, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Edet Akpan, lauded the collaborative efforts that birthed the PBoR, noting that, “patients, as consumers of healthcare services are kings and their interest must be overriding in the provision of healthcare services.”
According to Dr. Enelamah, “the healthcare sector must be viable and sustainable with a view to creating quality services for the patient, and certainly not at the expense of the patient…,” stating further that it is the responsibility of all “to protect the consumers from reckless profiteering and the unregulated acts of nefarious businesses, who pay no attention to the rights and plights of the patients.”
The Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, whose ministry partnered with CPC to introduce the PBoR, described the aggregation of patients’ rights as a welcome initiative, which would help the country achieve universal health coverage strengthen its health care systems, while improving the synergy between provider and patients, promoting higher and safer standards in hospitals, and at the same time, protecting consumers and service providers.
In his words, “As a signatory to all UN declarations and treaties, we recognise rights as basic essentials in any decent society and we must guarantee these rights. Our worth will be measured by our commitment to protecting these rights. In health care settings, it balances the power relationship… as many of our patients are helpless and often severely in need. We need to ensure that as stakeholders, we guarantee our responsibilities and ensure that people have a right to information; the right to proper explanation of their medical situation in a language they understand; the right to control decision making with respect to their treatment regimen; the right to know where to, when to, and how to secure a second opinion when necessary. We must stop playing god as healthcare providers, the rights of our people must be protected, while at the same time, the right of the provider must be guaranteed.”
The Vice President, in his keynote address, called for strict compliance with the PBoR by healthcare professionals. He commended the Consumer Protection Council, the Federal Ministry of Health, and their collaborators, for the initiative, and expressed the commitment of President Buhari’s administration to ensuring universal health coverage for all Nigerians.
Prof. Osinbajo noted that, “In terms of policy and funding, we, as a government, are acutely aware of the challenges of Nigeria’s health sector. And that is why we are single-mindedly pursuing the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians. For the first time ever, our 2018 budget allocates 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund towards the funding of key health initiatives, in compliance with the National Health Act.”
The Vice President praised the PBoR initiative and commended it to all stakeholders. He said, “The champions of this ground-breaking initiative deserve our heartfelt commendations and I encourage all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem to take advantage of the momentum and consensus that this effort creates, by focusing on the singular objective, that is, an improved level of patient care. Our aim must be to develop a standard worthy of emulation, by ensuring strict compliance with and the enforcement of the Patient’s Bill of Rights. We must hold ourselves - professionals and patients - accountable to the rights that this document enunciates, and when we see others who should, but do not, we must insist that they do.”
The launch also featured remarks and goodwill messages from other stakeholders in the healthcare sector. This included the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Rex Mpazanje, who congratulated Nigeria on the initiative and noted that the PBoR documents the internationally recognised rights of patients.
Dr. Mpazanje expressed WHO’s full support of the launch and pledged the organisation’s commitment to support the implementation process, and immediate actions that will follow the launch.
Other goodwill messages were received from the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Adebayo; the representative of the Registrar of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria; the Registrar, Dental Technologist Registration Board of Nigeria, Mrs. Olusola Omiloye; the Country Director of Save the Children, Mr. Ben Foot; the Country Director of One Campaign, Ms. Serah Makka; and the Country Director of Save the Consumers, Mr. Aliyu Ilias, amongst others.
The event was well attended by medical practitioners, healthcare insurance providers, civil society organisations, relevant government regulatory bodies, as well as legal practitioners.