The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill which compels hospital in the country to treat victims of gunshot without demanding police report or financial deposit. A refusal to do so is termed unlawful by the bill.
The bill titled, “Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshots” was passed during the plenary session of the Senate on Tuesday, July 11.
The bill also made it mandatory for every person, including security agents, to render “every possible assistance” to victims of gunshot wounds, including taking such persons to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.
While passing the bill, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said not every victim of a gunshot wound is a criminal and as such, “it is important that a legal framework be put in place to avoid unnecessary loss of lives”.
According to Saraki, “By the passage of this Bill, the Senate has moved to ensure that every hospital in Nigeria, both public and private, must accept to treat victims of gunshot wounds without any clearance from the police.
“What we have done is to ensure that everyone is entitled to medical treatment, irrespective of the cause of the shooting.
“We should reserve judgment for the criminal justice system, and leave healthcare for the medical professionals”, he said.
This comes one year and some months after the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, issued a directive to all hospitals in the state to treat persons with gunshot wounds and accident victims before demanding to see a police report.
According to the governor, the duty to save lives was of paramount importance and must, therefore, come ahead of formal reports to the police.
The directive was revealed to newsmen in a statement by the Governor’s media aid, Samuel Aruwan, on Thursday, April 28, 2016.
The statement read:
“The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, has directed all hospitals in the state to, with immediate effect, start treating persons with gunshot wounds and accident victims without demanding Police Report as a basis for attention.
“Lives must be saved first, before the formalities of demanding Police Reports from victims. After saving lives, hospitals and other agencies can start making inquiries regarding how the gunshot wounds and other injuries were sustained.
“We consider it a gross abdication of responsibility if any hospital leaves injured patients unattended because of the absence of Police Reports.
“What is important is saving lives. There is no reason for an innocent citizen who has survived armed robbery and needs treatment for a gunshot wound to be denied the medical attention he requires.
“The hospitals can comply with reporting requirements to the police after providing the care the patient needs.
“This is the unanimous resolution of the Kaduna State Security Council. As Governor, I have communicated this decision to the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Human Services and other concerned agencies operating in the state.
“A moment of trauma is not the time to put the paper before lives. All our healthcare agencies have been advised that it will amount to criminal neglect to deny or delay critical care to such patients.”
Meanwhile, some of the other bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday were animal health and husbandry technologies (registration, etc) bill, 2017 (HB. 320); corporate manslaughter bill, 2017 (HB. 273); National Child Protection and Enforcement Agency bill, 2017 (HB. 127) and National Intelligence Agency pension board bill, 2017 (HB. 842).
Others include Nigerian Academy of Science bill, 2017 (HB. 917) and the national postgraduate college of medical laboratory science bill (HB. 405).