Falana sues FG over state of public hospitals

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We are highlighting this article about Femi Falana’s prosecution of our Federal Government, as it is of critical importance in our journey as a nation. We are 50 years into our existence, and most public hospitals in Nigeria have regressed over this period. Just like most Nigerians do not expect justice from their police stations, electricity in their homes or water from their taps…we have also learnt not to expect care from our hospitals. Can we let this be? It is easy to dismiss Femi Falana as just another maverick, but we need to sit back and think. Maybe we need to use the courts more innovatively, to hold our leaders accountable. Sometimes it is the arrogance of our so called “leaders”, and the way they are able to access cutting edge health care in the West, while the very people they are there to serve and protect cannot even access the most basic antenatal care. Maybe one day we will join the dots on this story….

Falana is also seeking a perpetual injunction restraining government from taking any public officer abroad for medical treatment.  

Falana is seeking among others, a declaration that the failure or refusal to repair and equip public hospitals and medical centres in Nigeria constitutes a violation of the duty of the defendant to protect the health of Nigerians, and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick, as required by Article 16(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples‘ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The Applicant also argued that, “Contrary to its obligations under the law, and in spite of the abundant resources of the country, the Federal Government has refused to equip public hospitals and medical centres located in the country.

On the 4th of August Justice Adah sitting at the Federal High Court stated that he agreed with Mr Falana, that substituted service could be resorted to since it is a fundamental rights matter. The judge therefore ordered that all the processes in the case be served by the bailiff on the Federal Attorney-General through the Federal Ministry of Justice – a small initial victory, but a very significant one.

Mr Falana is seeking the following reliefs:

A. A DECLARATION that Nigerians are entitled to the best attainable state of physical and mental health guaranteed by Article 16(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

B. A DECLARATION that the failure or refusal to repair and equip public hospitals and medical centres in Nigeria constitutes a violation of the duty of the Defendant to protect the health of Nigerians and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick as required by Article 16(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

C. A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to save lives through the provision of adequate medical facilities is illegal and unconstitutional as it constitutes a threat to the Applicants fundamental right to life guaranteed by Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

D. A DECLARATION that the practice of having public officials treated at public expense in foreign hospitals is illegal as it violates the right of other Nigerians to equality before the law and equal right of access to the public property and services guaranteed by Articles 3 and 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

E. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Defendant from taking any public officer to foreign hospitals for medical check up and/or treatment in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.

F. AN ORDER directing the Defendant to repair and equip Federal Government owned hospitals and medical centres to ensure that Nigerians receive adequate medical attention when they are sick forthwith.

http://www.nigeriahealthwatch.com/

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (www.epiafric.com), which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. This is sure one to follow. I hope the courts rule in favor all the way to the supreme court. It may not work on the preventing them for seeking health outside, rights and all but the second for sure..

  2. This case is such an important precedence that all doctors and health professionals in Nigeria should support it by printing tee-shirts with the case number and wear it to work every Friday or every time the case comes up in court to show that they are watching and support the initiative just like the Mandela foundation promo using his prison number

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