Declare emergency on violence against healthcare workers, WMA urges FG

The World Medical Association has called on the Federal Government and managers of health institutions in Nigeria to declare an emergency on the rising tide of violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria.

The WMA President, Dr Osahon Enabulele, made the call at the opening ceremony of the 63rd Annual General Conference and Delegates Meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association in Jalingo, Taraba State.

In his lecture titled, ‘Violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria: The Way Forward,’ the WMA President decried the rising cases of violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria, which he put at a prevalence of 10 to 60 per cent compared to the global prevalence of eight to 38 per cent.

In a press statement made available to our correspondent, Enabulele said, “Despite the tremendous efforts being made by physicians and other health professionals to deliver health care services to the people, they were still being violently assaulted in their workplaces, particularly  in the emergency care units, primary care clinics, wards, and psychiatric units of hospitals in Nigeria.”

While identifying verbal abuse, physical assault, and kidnapping as common forms of violence against healthcare workers, he stated that the perpetrators of violence against healthcare workers were mostly patients, relatives of patients, co-workers, and kidnappers.

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Enabulele said, “Issues of long waiting time, increased workload, inadequate supply of equipment, poor communication and negative attitude by some health workers, patient’s history of violent behaviour, and dissatisfaction with the care given, are some of the factors responsible for the rising cases of violence against healthcare workers.

“I call on government at all levels to declare it as an emergency and adopt a zero-tolerance policy on violence in the health sector.”

He urged the government to improve the funding of the health system as well as their investments in the well-being, security, safety, and working conditions of physicians and other health professionals.

He also implored governments, law enforcement agencies, health institutions, and health professional associations like the NMA, to always ensure that every case of violence against a healthcare worker is prosecuted to its logical conclusion.

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