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ICRC urges compliance to law granting healthcare access to gunshot victims


(L-R) head of communications and advocacy, Nigeria Red Cross Society Nwakpa Nwakpa, Head of Operations, Guardian Digital, Lolade Nwanze, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) media officer, Adewole Ajao and ICRC public relations officer, Abuja, Aliyu Dawobe at a visit to The Guardian Newspaper in Lagos…..PHOTO: Dennis Erezi

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday urged Nigeria hospitals and local healthcare centre to comply with the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017.

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari signed the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017 into law in January 2018.

The law empowers medical personnel to treat gunshot victims without waiting for a police report, placing a premium on human life. But the law had not been totally complied with.

During a visit to The Guardian, ICRC members lamented the negligence to the law and urged security agencies, hospitals and healthcare centres to ensure compliance.

ICRC media officer, Adewale Ajao, said it was disheartening that the law that was hard-fought for by stakeholders and the Medical Association of Nigeria was being neglected.

“We have been finding hospitals saying, no, we cannot treat this person as a victim of a gunshot and there is a law in place already to ensure that life is saved first before going after police report,” Ajao said.

“Years back, if you are a victim of a gunshot, you go to a hospital, you have to be treated if there is no police report you cannot be treated. The ICRC was integral in seeing this was signed into law and there must be compliance.”

Head of communications and advocacy, Nigeria Red Cross Society, Nwakpa Nwakpa said ICRC would partner Nigeria celebrities to sensitise members of the public through an awareness campaign later this year.

“We are doing this campaigns because a lot of people don’t know, but it is important that they know that the law has been passed into law so we can avoid emergency health cases unattended to.”

ICRC spokesman Aliyu Dawobe urged members of the public to desist from impeding or denying health workers access to carry out their duties. He said such acts are not encouraging for humanitarian workers.

Dawobe stated that obstruction of an ambulance by police, soldiers and arms bearers from reaching the hospitals during emergencies are part of the ways the law to treat accident, violent and conflict victims is being violated.

“We are appealing that no one should attempt to destroy, vandalise or burn medical facilities. Humanitarian workers are committed to helping people affected by conflict and violence,” Dawobe said.

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