The Proposed Bill For The Anti Quackery Act Of Nigeria 2017: The Funeral Of The Comatose Nigerian Health System.
Quackery in the Nigerian health sector has assumed a monstrous state that it takes a government and a people with a determined will to check its excess and dangerous effects on the lives of the citizenry as the big and the mighty who are supposed to be vanguards in the eradication of this menace are rather deeply involved in its (quackery) promotion for selfish aggrandizement.
The necessity for Anti Quackery Act that is service-centered and all encompassing to compliment other existing legislations needed serious attention for the benefit of Nigerians and the players in the health care delivery system which is multi-sectorial/desciplinary in nature.
The proposed bill for the "Anti Quackery Act of Nigeria 2017" is a piece of document with the sole aim of rather promoting quackery and subjecting other health professionals to the greedy and selfish few within the health sector who always assumed the role of super Masters and demi gods with superior knowledge. They are the ones at the helms of affairs of our health care delivery system from the primary to the tertiary level which breeds rivalry and inefficiency in the entire system .
A brief look at the bill shows its lopsidedness and its aim to protect only the interest of the few; the "Medical and Dental Practioners of Nigeria" and not to check the activities of quacks in the system. Section 2 of the bill provides for the function of the Anti Quackery Commission. Sub (e) states the adoption of measures to eradicate the commission of medical and dental quackery but no mention is made of Nursing, Laboratory Science, Pharmacy and other key professionals within the health sector. There is more activities of quacks in these other areas of health sector than the medical and dental section.
The composition of the Anti Quackery Commission as provided under section 3 (1)(a) of the bill, makes the commission that of only the Medical and Dental Practioners as its sub-sections provide for about 50 of them as members while other professionals I.e Nursing, Laboratory Science, Eye, will provide only one member each as contained in sub-section( f) of the said section.
Also, Section 13 especially sub-sections 4, 5 and 6 of the bill is meant to reduce every other health practitioner to a quack except the medical and dental practioners whose instruction and supervision they are all subjected to. Only a registered medical/dental practioner or a person acting under their supervision or instruction may remove tissue, and administer section. This is a total encroachment on the duties and roles of other health practioners and an insult to their professionalism. The implication thereof is that under the supervision or instruction of medical and dental practioners, any person can perform the duties of a laboratory scientist and nurses without certification by their appropriate regulatory bodies. No penal sanctions for any medical and dental practioner who practice quackery i.e conducting laboratory investigations or ultrasound who are not consultants in those field.
A further review of section 16 of the said bill shows a total disregard and violation of the fundamental rights of individuals to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as enshrined in section 38(1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) as it criminalizes faith healing by Churches, Mosques and traditional spiritualists.
The bill if allowed to be passed into law will;
i. Cause unhealthy rivalry within the health sector.
ii. Be a final funeral rite of the already comatose health system and only the few privileged individuals will be able to access health services in Nigeria.
iii. Create more scarcity and the highest mortality as some local government areas in Nigeria don't have a single medical and dental practioner who should dish out instruction or supervise these health interventions as stipulated in the bill.
In view of the above, it is therefore, humbly recommended as follows:
i. There should be a multidisciplinary approach to any bill that will check quackery in the Nigerian health sector since quackery is not only limited to medical and dental practices alone.
ii. The amendment of the Nursing and Midwifery Act of Nigerian should be done without delay.
iii. Answers must be provided to serious questions like: who are those training quacks and employing them in their facilities with fake papers called certificates without authorisation and regulations from the appreciate bodies?
Conclusively, it is humbly submitted that the Bill for the Anti Quackery Act of Nigeria is a selfish approach or legislative intervention with the potential of compounding an already complicated and dysfunctional health care service in Nigeria. Accordingly, the Bill should be rejected by health practioners who mean well for the system for the benefit of every Nigerian so as to reduce quackery for the sake of humanity.
(Jonah Gwatana, Esq. can be reached via [email protected])