Nigerians Raise Concern Over Quackery In Health Sector


…As PWDs say, It’s a major cause of disabilities

Government at all levels and regulatory agencies have been tasked to adopt more stringent measures to curb medical quackery bedevilling the nation’s health sector.

President of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), Dr. Casimir Ifeanyi, led the call for the Federal Ministry of Health and their counterparts in the 36 states of the federation to intensify the fight against quacks during the anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by PRIMORG, on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 in Abuja.

Dr Ifeanyi, who was reacting to an investigative report by Daily Trust that exposed several cases of Nigerians suffering different kinds of deformities as a result of widespread quackery in the health sector, said that quackery in the medical sector constitute a major menace in developing countries and a big illicit business in Nigeria’s health industry.

He blamed the quackery in Nigeria on the government’s failure to protect citizens as well as the lack of political will to follow through with the legal framework, and failure of regulatory bodies to play their roles effectively.

According to him; “The problem of quackery in the health sector is not the lack of punishment. Rather arresting quacks is a bigger challenge”.

On what government and regulatory agencies must do to stem the tide of quackery, Dr Ifeanyi; “A whole lot needs to be done by the regulatory agencies, the Federal Ministry of Health and State Ministries of Health.

“We need to educate people on signs that an individual is a quack and how to credential the facility or individual so that I can have the confidence to receive service. All that is not being done and what makes us professional is because, inherently, we can decide to regulate. Anytime the systemic regulation is compromised, quacks will have a field day.

“Regulation needs to be more effective and more periodic, and there has got to be public health education,” he said.

The medical practitioner picked holes in the law guiding the operation of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), saying that there were some lacuna in the powers of Council.

According to Ifeanyi; “In so far that the Council cannot walk into a hospital, particularly a private hospital to check the documents of the practicing doctors, then something is wrong, because right now they can only do that through the state ministry of health. That is a major lacuna.

“Our problem is that we have legal frameworks and institutional frameworks but, unfortunately, there is the scarcity of political will to give effect to the provisions in our laws, to the policies of the government that we have. The problem we have here is that these regulatory agencies are not doing enough. They are not living up to the mandate that set them up,” he stressed.

On his part, a disability inclusion expert, Chris Obiora, called for a stiffer penalty against quackery in the health sector, saying that the ugly act has contributed to the number of millions of persons with disabilities in the country.

He specifically said that people are getting deformed due to quackery and negligence by health practitioners, adding that there was the need for the Ministry of Health and some of the associations like the Medical Laboratory Association to take the issue more seriously.

Obiora said; “The government should take the arrest of quacks more seriously because, they have done more harm than good. So, they should have more penalties for such actions. I mean penalties that will be more serious than what we have already”.

He therefore called for awareness of the dangers of quackery in the health profession, stressing that awareness must be created for people to be able to understand and know how to identify quacks, especially in rural areas.

Speaking during the radio programme, Daily Trust reporter Usman Bello Balarabe blamed regulatory failures for the booming quackery business in the health sector, adding that unlike what is obtainable in other countries, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) portal does not show licensed medical practitioners, which can aid in identifying certified doctors.

Balarabe said; “When compared to their counterparts in other countries like Kenya who have published the lists of every licensed medical practitioner in the country and have a mechanism where confirmation of a medical practitioner’s license is possible and easy, Nigeria Medical Association’s portal doesn’t have the list of licensed medical practitioners, and this encourages quackery”.

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