The World Medical Association (WMA) has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria and healthcare institutions in the country to take urgent action to address the increasing rate of violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria. Dr. Osahon Enabulele, the President of WMA, made this call during the opening ceremony of the 63rd Annual General Conference and Delegates Meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Jalingo, Taraba State.
In his lecture titled, ‘Violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria: The Way Forward,’ Dr. Enabulele decried the alarming rate of violence against healthcare workers in Nigeria, which he estimated to be between 10 to 60 percent compared to the global prevalence of eight to 38 percent. According to him, healthcare professionals in Nigeria are being violently assaulted in their workplaces, particularly in emergency care units, primary care clinics, wards, and psychiatric units of hospitals.
Dr. Enabulele identified verbal abuse, physical assault, and kidnapping as common forms of violence against healthcare workers, with patients, relatives of patients, co-workers, and kidnappers being the major perpetrators of these violent acts.
“Long waiting times, increased workload, inadequate supply of equipment, poor communication and negative attitude by some health workers, patient’s history of violent behavior, and dissatisfaction with the care given, are some of the factors responsible for the rising cases of violence against healthcare workers,” Dr. Enabulele said.
He called on the government at all levels to declare the rising violence against healthcare workers as an emergency and adopt a zero-tolerance policy on violence in the health sector. He also urged the government to improve the funding of the health system and invest in the well-being, security, safety, and working conditions of physicians and other health professionals.
Dr. Enabulele implored governments, law enforcement agencies, health institutions, and health professional associations like the NMA to ensure that every case of violence against a healthcare worker is prosecuted to its logical conclusion.
The call by the WMA president is coming at a time when the health sector in Nigeria is grappling with several challenges, including poor funding, inadequate infrastructure, and a shortage of healthcare workers. The rising violence against healthcare workers is a major cause for concern, as it threatens the health and safety of those who provide essential healthcare services to Nigerians.
It is hoped that the Federal Government and healthcare institutions in Nigeria will heed the call by the WMA to declare an emergency on violence against healthcare workers and take urgent steps to address this disturbing trend. Violence against healthcare workers is a major cause for concern, as it threatens the health and safety of those who provide essential healthcare services to Nigerians.