The federal government has launched the Nigeria’s first Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBoR) developed by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.

The bill is an aggregation by the CPC of Patients’ Rights that exist in other instruments including the constitution, Consumer Protection Council Act, Freedom of Information Act, National Health Act, the Hippocratic Oath and others.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who launched the bill said the goal of health services is to provide all patients with high quality health care in a manner that clearly recognises individual needs and rights.

The vice president noted that in order to effectively accomplish this goal, the patient and the health care provider must work together to develop and maintain optimum health.

To this end, he said government was not oblivious of the acute problem of the Nigerian healthcare challenges and was therefore, putting the right policies to address them.

Osinbajo, who also observed that healthcare was not just about government funding and provision of infrastructure but also includes what patients perceive as what they are getting out of it added that respect for patients and human lives were strong pointers to the premium a country places on its citizens.

While underscoring the role of not only healthcare practitioners but the entire healthcare value chains in the new healthcare matrix, he expressed the optimism that going forward with the right instrument now in place, healthcare consumers would notice a change from the present narrative.

Speaking at the launch, the director-general of the CPC, Babatunde Irukera, described the bill as the country’s boldest step yet in soft infrastructure in healthcare.

“Today, we take a definite step in ensuring peoples’ rights in the healthcare sector which are truly respected and protected in part because no one in our country is insulated or immunised from needing medical services. “Essentially, our comfort, lives and life expectancy are in part determined by the quality and delivery of healthcare services. Indeed, there are standards, and there are examples of those who operate above those standards, and some who even gave their lives for the standards, such as heroes and heroines like late Dr. Stella Adadevoh and some of her colleagues who have paid the utmost sacrifice in saving the lives of others. “Yet, there are many, who unqualified, pass themselves off as professionals, and others, who though qualified do not know, nor live up to applicable standards. This PBoR will assist healthcare professionals and professional associations to identify and eliminate these quacks, and educate those who are qualified, but unaware of their obligations and the rights of their patients,” he explained.

“ A 2016 study by PwC revealed that 90 per cent of respondents associate healthcare in Nigeria with low quality, while over 80 per cent and over 70 per cent respectively, associate it with words like “rude” and “fear”.

“Conversely, less than 20 per cent felt that the healthcare provided in Nigeria gave value for money, and less than 10 per cent felt that it was transparent.”