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Nigerian Medical Association (NMA)

Mercy Killing Illegal in Nigeria, NMA Urges Careful Consideration

The Nigeria Medical Association has reaffirmed its stance against euthanasia, otherwise called mercy killing, emphasising that it remains illegal in the Nigerian medical practice.

The newly elected president of the association, Dr. Bala Audu, made this assertion during a press conference held in Abuja on Wednesday.

The conference marked the conclusion of the 64th NMA Annual General Conference, which took place in Cross River State from May 5 to 12, 2024.

Euthanasia, often referred to as “mercy killing,” is the act of painlessly putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma

This year’s conference had the theme: “Reversing the Trend of Health Sector Brain Drain.” The sub-theme was “Euthanasia in Medical Practice.”

Audu noted that as part of the AGC’s resolutions, “The introduction of euthanasia in the medical practice in Nigeria requires careful consideration because of ethical, legal, religious, social and cultural diversities. However, as of now, euthanasia, in whatever form, is illegal and punishable by the provision of Section 306 of the Criminal Code in Nigeria.

“The AGC/DM noted that euthanasia is a complex and sensitive topic in medical practice and that the subject remains controversial with no clear global consensus.”

He said the AGC observed that Nigeria was already experiencing a catastrophic shortage of human resources for health due to the alarming rate of migration of healthcare workers overseas, the so-called “Japa Syndrome”.

“The conference further observed that the current brain drain is attributed but not limited to poor remuneration, poor infrastructure, protracted insecurity, low standard of living, and inadequate funding for the healthcare system,” the NMA President said.

He added that the AGC was concerned with the prevailing economic crisis, as evidenced by the geometric surge in consumer prices, instability in the exchange rate, and increase in the number of multi-dimensionally poor Nigerians, which has now exceeded 100 million, according to the World Bank.

He said, “Despite the tremendous efforts being made by healthcare workers to deliver healthcare services to Nigerians, they are still violently assaulted and kidnapped in their workplaces.”

The conference also seriously frowned on the inability of governments to ensure the safe release of health workers still in captivity.

Audu said, “The conference is deeply worried that the spate of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, and killing of innocent citizens in Nigeria, has reached alarming rates, causing palpable fears among the citizens.

“The AGC noted the continuous exit of pharmaceutical giants from Nigeria due to the challenging business environment caused by the impact of naira devaluation and forex scarcity.

“This has resulted in drug shortages, geometric increases in the prices of drugs, and job losses. The conference further noted that this exodus raises serious concerns about the future of access to essential medicines by millions of Nigerians.”

The AGC also noted the increasing number of quacks apprehended over the past few months.

He said, “Suffice to say that quackery has brought untold hardships to many Nigerians, in terms of attendant complications with deadly outcomes.”

The NMA urged the government at all levels to, as a matter of urgency, prioritise and show more commitment to healthcare funding.