FG Instruct Medical Facilities To Adhere To Gunshot Act

The pursuit of medical treatment for gunshot injuries has become perilous gamble for victims, often resulting in unnecessary loss of lives. Due to medical facilities’ failure to adhere to the provisions of the Act, gunshot victims are denied timely life-saving care, leading to preventable fatalities.

However the challenge of implementation and compliance remain obstacles. Lack of public awareness of the Act’s provisions, and limited availability of specialised equipment, and trained personnel to manage complex gunshot wounds, further deter their involvement.

Its commonplace for medical facilities to decline treatment for gunshot patients lacking a police report, leading to many bleeding to death or perishing from their injuries while awaiting the necessary clearance.

Despite the stipulations of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act of 2017, hospitals and other healthcare facilities persist in refusing life-saving treatment and care to gunshot victims unless they furnish an appropriate police report.

The Act mandates hospitals to provide treatment for gunshot victims without requiring police reports, marking a significant stride in tackling the persistent issue.

Worried by the spate of non-compliance, the Federal Ministry of Health recently issued a statement decrying the development.

In the statement, entitled: Non-Compliance of Medical Facilities on the Gunshot Act 2017, the Director (Information) of the Ministry, Patricia Deworitshe, called for immediate compliance by concerned parties.

It reads: “In recent times, the society has witnessed a rise in the loss of lives as a result of the refusal of some health facilities to attend to gunshot and victims of one-chance who do not present police reports.

 “Gunshot victims come under medical emergencies that require urgent attention to save the life of the patient or victim. It has come to the Knowledge of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, of the slow or noncompliance by most medical facilities going contrary with the Gunshot Act 2017 which mandates all medical facilities to provide for compulsory treatment and care for victims of gunshots and related matters.

“The Act goes further to stipulate that: Every hospital in Nigeria whether public or private shall accept or receive immediate and adequate treatment with or without police clearance.”

According to Deworitshe: “Every person including security agents shall render every possible assistance to any person with gunshot wounds and ensure that the person is taken to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.

“In line with this mandate, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is concerned about the spate of gunshot incidences and the refusal of some of the health facilities to administer treatment and care for the victim or patient without a police report.

“The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, therefore calls on all medical practitioners to comply with this national law by providing prompt treatment and care for these victims to prevent death while, strategies are being put in place by the Ministry to ensure compliance to the Act by Nigerian healthcare facilities.

“The police is also urged to comply with and enforce the provisions of the compulsory treatment and care for victims of gunshot ACT 2017 with promptness as well as reassure the health facilities that treatment of gunshot victims is not illegal,” the statement noted.

Dreading repercussions, hospitals continue to prioritise protocol over human life causing treatment delays that are often fatal for victims with critical gunshot wounds.

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