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Health consumers receive empowerment

Health consumers receive empowerment

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Hopes are high that consumers in the health sector are set to enjoy professional and higher quality services from care providers as the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria [CPC] launches the Patients’ Bill of Rights [PBoR].

The event which took place at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja, with the vice president in attendance attracted a large turnout of people from the government circle, senators, heads of government agencies and other stake holders.

In essence, the PBoR will ensure that people’s rights, both the rights of patients and care providers, are truly respected and protected. It will guarantee that patients and families become conversant with their rights and responsibilities while care providers become familiar with their roles and duties to patients.

For example, patients have the responsibility to pay their bills and treat care givers with respect. However, in order to expect and ensure compliance with these responsibilities, they need to have full information, including transparent billing, consent or choice where applicable.

“What we have done with the PBoR is really to aggregate all these into one educational material that serves both patients and care providers. In addition, we have articulated the responsibility of patients too, as they take control over the course of their own treatment to the extent supported by law and ethics. For instance, patients have a responsibility to pay their bills and treat care-providers with respect. In order to expect, and ensure compliance to these responsibilities, they need to have full information, including transparent billing, and consent or choice, where applicable.”

The DG regretted that “as in other aspects of our national life, majority of Nigerians are dissatisfied with the quality of care they receive from both private and government facilities or institutions.”

Citing a 2016 study by PwC, Irukera noted that the study revealed that 90 percent of respondents associate health care in Nigeria with low quality, while over 80 percent and over 70 percent respectively associate it with words like “rude” and “fear”.

Conversely, he said that less than 20 percent felt that the health care provided in Nigeria gave value for money, and less than 10 percent felt that it was transparent. The public dissatisfaction with the system does not end with the providers, as only six percent of the respondents felt confident that if things were to go wrong with their care, they would be protected by the authorities.1

According to the report, “The lack of patient protection within the system is perhaps the most significant factor affecting the level of trust in Nigerian healthcare… Stories abound of patients who have had undesired healthcare outcomes or had concerns about the quality of care received in hospitals, but few cases of successful medical malpractice investigations/action have been recorded in the last 5 years.”

This assessment, emphasised the DG, underscores the importance of the PBoR. “We have an urgent responsibility to reverse this scorecard. We at the CPC recognise that for any meaningful change to occur, patients and their families must become conversant with their rights and responsibilities; and providers must be familiar with their roles and duties to patients.  It is in that demand and supply side awareness and education, as well as enforcement, that we can change the sad perception, or narrative, and in the process save lives and build mutual confidence.  This is what underpins our ‘Demand and Insist Campaign’ to empower consumers in ensuring they are better served.”

Speaking further, he noted that “the PBoR is our boldest step yet in soft infrastructure in healthcare.  It is the vital vehicle upon which even physical infrastructure must ride to truly deliver service. In the absence of a humane, attentive and secure approach by healthcare professionals, we neglect inclusiveness, and in reality, lessen access.

“Today, we take a definite step in ensuring peoples’ rights in the healthcare sector are truly respected and protected in part because no one in our country is insulated or immunised from needing medical services.  Essentially, our comfort, lives and life expectancy are in part determined by the quality and delivery of healthcare services others.”

Describing the launch of the PBOR as a watershed in the history of Nigeria, he added that the bill is the evidence of the broad collaboration and consensus CPC has with other regulators, stakeholders and entities. “It represents our collective commitment to improving care. This turning point in our development as a nation has been a long time coming,” claimed Irukera.

(Footnotes)

The post Health consumers receive empowerment appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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