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PUBLIC OPINIONS5 days ago

Babatunde Irukera, CPC and the Patient Bill of Rights by Simbo Olorunfemi 2nd August, 2018 One of the most fulfilling things for me is having someone with whom you have had the privilege of private engagement and studied at close quarters go into public service and actually make a difference. The terrain can be quite treacherous. Many easily get sunk in the waters of politics. Often, the tools to wok with might not even be there. But one such man who has impressed me is Babatunde Irukera. He has been different. He has carried on with his assignment as Director General at the Consumer Protection Council impressively. With the ‘little’ he has, the man has been building blocks, setting up structure, causing a change of orientation and approach on the part of the Staff. Of course, they are not there yet. As someone in the consumer advocacy space, I have had to engage with him a few times. Responsive. Polite. You get hesitant bringing him in, to not over-burden him, seeing how he would get involved to ensure resolution. Such a bright mind. Humble too. He has taken his job seriously, carrying himself with dignity. When he has had to bark or bite, it has been decisive. He has had to step on toes, even putting so much on the line. Yet, so unruffled. His manner of public engagement has been calm, responsive and responsible. Even here on this platform, he has remained calm and refined in his engagement, even in the face of some not-too-refined comments. His recently launched project – The Patient Bill of Rights, long overdue, is one for which he must receive accolades. Too much going on in that sector, the patient sure needs protection. The Patient’s Bill of Rights are: “1. Right to Relevant information in a language and manner the patient understands, including diagnosis, treatment, other procedures and possible outcomes. 2. Right of timely access to detailed and accurate medical records and available services. 3. Right to transparent bilingual and full disclosure of any cost including recommended treatment plans. 4. Right to Privacy and confidentiality of medical records. 5. Right to clean, safe and secure healthcare environment. 6. Right to be treated with respect, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, allegations of crime, disability or economic circumstances. 7. Right to receive urgent, immediate and sufficient intervention and care, in the event of an emergency. 8. Right to reasonable visitation in accordance with prevailing rules and regulations. 9. Right to decline care, subject to prevailing laws and upon full disclosure of the consequences of such a decision. 10. Right to decline or consent to participation in medical research, experimental procedures or clinical trials. 11. Right to quality care in accordance to prevailing standards. 12. Right to complain and express dissatisfaction regarding services received.” I am particularly interested, for now, in item 4. So much opacity in terms of billing. Some hospitals are simply taking advantage of patients. The arbitrariness is unbelievable. And I am not talking about professional fees and services here. They have a bit of latitude there. However, some private hospitals have been reduced to mere trading posts without consideration for conscience where price of drugs can be doubled or even tripled above what is available in the regular pharmacy outlets. Are there no limits when it comes to billing? I am presently engaged with one now which has the mind to collect childhood vaccines (measles, polio, etc.) at no cost from the government facility and administer to patients for as much as N4,500 per dose, even with no value added service. Should be exploring how PBOR can offer protection in such cases, soon. Indeed, great as those rights are, making them justice-able is key. I trust that if that flank has not been covered, the DG must be working on it. Doing great with so ‘little’. What a gentleman!

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