The Introduction of Patient’s Bill of Rights by the Consumer Protection Council: Impact on the Enforcement of Patient’s Rights under the Nigerian Healthcare System
The recent launch by the Consumer Protection Council (“CPC”), in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, of a Patient’s Bill of Right (“PBoR”) has received lots of encomiums, particularly amongst health sector enthusiasts.
Any initiative with a prospect of enhancing value in the healthcare industry is always a welcome development in Nigeria. The sector remains one of the most critical for the country’s economic and social development, despite being one of the most neglected, mismanaged, and abused; just in the same manner as majority of Nigerian consumers. By putting together a Patient’s Bill of Rights, the CPC seeks to improve the quality of services delivered to consumers of healthcare and by extension contribute to the development of the healthcare sector.
From a legal perspective, the PBoR, sticto sensu is not entirely a novel intervention – although from consumer protection perspective it appears so – as the rights of patients in Nigeria are exhaustively covered within the provisions of the prevailing statutes including the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Health Act, 2012 and various codes of ethics for healthcare practitioners which make copious provisions on the rights available to users of healthcare services. Moreso, the protection of these rights has been the focal point of the age-long principle of law on medical negligence which places a standard of care upon which patients should be protected from unreasonable risks of harm.
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