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Stakeholders are declaring that the current anti-quackery laws are obsolete and urge for a review.

Quackery: PRIMORG Organises Stakeholders’ Review Of Existing Health Sector Laws

Health sector stakeholders are urging for a review of the existing laws against quackery, stating that they are obsolete during a town hall meeting on Public Sector Integrity in Nigeria, organised by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG), in Abuja this weekend.

PRIMORG’s town hall meeting series runs with support from the MacArthur Foundation and is targeted at drawing the attention of the government and public to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.

Speaking at the town hall meeting, the President of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), Dr Casimir Ifeanyi said quackery was motivated by monetary gains.

He added that the non-compliance to standards, failure of regulatory bodies to do their job and lack of political will on the government’s side enables quackery in the country.

“Quackery is seemingly lucrative, and regulation has failed. We have regulatory institutions and frameworks. Unfortunately, these institutions seemingly lack the idea of how to carry on with the mandate of their office, so they can’t be effective at safeguarding the lives of Nigerians. Secondly, the want of political will on the part of the government to free up the regulatory institutions has been provided in the enabling laws. Every profession has a charter.

“It is the charter that offers the rights of the practitioner and the duties of the practitioner that serve as a safeguard for the practitioner and those who receive services from them. It’s more pathetic when quackery happens in public health institutions. I am more concerned with this kind of guarded and protected quackery that happens under political protection.

“We need to speak to it. I have never seen the Medical Lab Science Association of Nigeria enter into any public hospital to say we want to look at the labs and the credentials of the practitioners. Why is that not happening? Guarded and protected quackery we need to address. It is very important and pertinent.”

The AMLSN president promised to engage public hospitals and facilities on the issue of quackery.

Also, the Managing Director at Americare Medical Group, Dr Chichi Iwuamadi, said Nigerians must be educated on the dangers of patronising quacks.

She noted that the health industry was in a state of emergency, adding that the absence of integrity in society and pervasive corruption encouraged medical quackery.

“The ravaging of quacks’ practice in Nigeria cannot be underestimated. What is going on in the country is heartbreaking because people, out of deception, come to trust people who don’t have the ability and the licensing to take care of them. That means you are giving yourself to somebody who can’t take care of you,” Iwuamadi added.

A legal practitioner, Ugo Nwofor, on his part, called for a review of the existing anti-quackery laws in Nigeria, stating that they are obsolete.

He stated that the punishment for quackery should be a capital offence in Nigeria, adding, “The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria act, particularly section 17 that deals with quackery, is not even detailed. It states that if you are not licensed and you practice as a doctor or in a related field, you pay a fine of N5,000 to N10,000, and you go to jail for five years. That should be a capital offence. What’s the minister doing there?”

A disability inclusion expert, Chris Obiaro, called for the standardisation of Nigeria’s public health system against quacks, stating that Persons with Disabilities are much affected by the menace.

“Quackery has contributed to causes of disabilities because taking the wrong medication has led to so many people being persons with disabilities today and even applying wrong treatments prescribed by quack nurses or quack doctors has also led to some disabilities today. So PWDs go through a whole lot, and as you know, you can’t separate disability from poverty.

“I think the government needs to do more on the strict laws against quackery. Again, there should be a lot of public enlightenment so that those who patronise them will decide to stop. This would go a long way.”