Dr Osahon Enabulele, president, World Medical Association (WMA), has urged the Nigerian government and medical facility administrators to declare an urgent state of affairs in light of the growing number of attacks on healthcare personnel in the country.
The WMA President made the call at the inauguration of the 63rd Annual General Conference and Delegates Meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), which took place on Tuesday, at the Catholic Event Centre in Jalingo, Taraba State.
Delivering a lecture titled “Violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria: The way forward”, the Enabulele lamented the increasing occurrences of violence towards healthcare personnel in Nigeria, noting that it ranges from 10 to 60 per cent, compared to the international prevalence of 8 to 38 per cent.
Even though doctors and other medical staff in Nigeria are working tirelessly to improve citizens’ health, Enabulele is concerned that they are still being violently assaulted on the job, especially in the emergency rooms, primary care clinics, wards, and psychiatric wards of hospitals.
Verbal abuse, physical assault, and abduction were all named as prevalent types of violence against healthcare professionals, and he confirmed that patients’ loved ones, patients themselves, other employees, and kidnappers were the most common perpetrators of such acts.
The president of WMA expressed concern that most healthcare facilities in Nigeria lacked a protocol to prevent acts of violence against healthcare workers. He cited problems such as long wait times, increased workload and inadequate supply of equipment, poor communication and negative attitude by some health workers, patients’ histories of violent behavior, and dissatisfaction with the care given as causes for this trend.
To prevent the flood of violence in the health sector, Enabulele recommended that all levels of government declare an emergency and implement a zero-tolerance policy on violence.
Governments, he said, must act swiftly to achieve Universal Health Coverage by addressing the social determinants of health and eliminating all current health disparities. He also demanded that governments increase spending on healthcare and better ensure the health, safety, and working conditions of medical workers.
He pleaded on governments, law enforcement, healthcare facilities, and healthcare professional organisations like the NMA to take all incidents of violence against healthcare workers seriously and pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.
He proposed that hospital administrators take many steps to make their hospitals safer, including bolstering their security infrastructure, creating policies to avoid violence, enhancing the patient experience, and training and educating their staff.