Recently, the Molluma Yakubu Loma Centre for Medical Law located in Barnawa, Kaduna in north-west region of Nigeria opened its doors to the general public to engage with stakeholders in the medical and legal sectors on how best to partner and deal with the menace of poor patient care.
The Medico-legal centre offers legal redress to victims of medical malpractice, medical negligence and mass atrocities and works with institutions that identify victims of mass atrocities, cataloguing them, and giving them dignity even in death, to enable their families and communities experience safety closure and in time, ensure that the perpetrators do not escape justice or accountability.
The program which was titled “HOUSE OF JUSTICE MEDICO-LEGAL ENGAGEMENT” was graced critical stakeholders amongst whom were: the key note speaker, a former Chief Medical Director at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Prof Alhassan Mela Yakubu, Professor of Paediatric medicine, Consultant Gastroenterology Herpetology/Nutrition, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason Esq, the Executive Director of the Centre, Mr. Duza Baba, a lab technician, member of the Molluma board and a World Health Organization consultant, Francis D. Kozah Esq the Kaduna State APC Legal Adviser and Legal Secretary of the Kaduna State Board of Internal Revenue, James A. Kanyip Esq who provided legal perspectives to the topic as well as Abdullahi Haruna Esq a former Attorney General of Kogi State who was represented by Seth Nixon Esq. Eminently at the event were state Chairmen of the Nigeria Medical Association and Nigeria Bar Association, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim and Bar. Sule Shuaibu.
Prof. Yakubu cited examples of how lack of medico-legal intervention has led to millions of avoidable deaths and deformity of patients. He went down history lane to cite the example of the Emperor of Rome, Frederick II (1192-1250) who was interested on the effect of exercise and digestion. He took 2 of his Knights, gave them identical meals, sent one on hunting and ordered the other to bed. At the end he killed both of them and examined the contents of their alimentary tracts to see in whom digestion was fastest to underscore how human lives were being devalued for lack of legal and medical accountability and defined medical negligence as more than heedless or careless conduct.
Continuing, the speaker alluded to the description made of the relationship between a doctor and his patients as ‘YOUR LIFE IN THEIR HAND’ and urged medical practitioners to take their calling seriously while encouraging patients to be active participants in their health situations.
Professor Yakubu who is also acknowledged as one of the fathers of Paediatric medicine continued by stating key acts that amount to professional negligence and urged patients to look out for them.
Responding from the legal tangent, Bar Kanyip cited the causes of medical negligence and medical errors and emphasized the need for medical practitioners to conform to the legal neighbourhood principle that enjoins persons in fiduciary relationships to exercise due care and diligence to those who are end users of their products or services.
The high point of the event was the very interactive session which had nurses, lab technicians, legal practitioners and patients dominating the discussions. The Nigeria Medical Association Chairman, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim took up the podium and enumerated the problems of the health sector in Nigeria and why it is pertinent for all sectors to join in on intervention especially the government. Bar Sule Shuaibu, Nigeria Bar Association chairman noted that except medical malpractice and negligence matters are advocated and litigated as human rights issues, not much progress will be experienced.
The Centre’s facilitator, Deborah Liman La’ah Esq thanked the auspicious and very interactive audience, noting that the engagement was needful to put the pertinent problem in the health sector in perspective.