The National Human Right Commission has released a set of Standard Minimum Guidelines for the protection of the rights of COVID-19 patients in treatment centers across Nigeria.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu stated that the Guidelines were issued in line with the mandate of the Commission to protect and promote human rights in accordance with its establishment Act.
In particular, section 5(l) of the National Human Right Commission (Amendment) Act of 2010 mandated the Commission to “prepare and publish, in such manner as the Commission considers appropriate, guidelines for the avoidance of acts or practices with respect to the function and powers of the Commission under this Act”
Mr. Ojukwu also added that “the Guidelines are in line with Nigeria’s obligations under the 1999 Constitution and other national and international human rights laws and instruments to which Nigeria is a party.”
The Guidelines contain human rights guarantees such as the rights to life, health, dignity, privacy, religion and protection against discrimination. It also contains provisions aimed at ensuring access to adequate accommodation, food, water and sanitation, information and communication for patients at COVID-19 treatment centres and facilities in Nigeria.
According to Mr. Ojukwu, “persons who have tested positive to COVID-19 and placed in treatment centres are in extreme vulnerable situations and their human rights to life, health and personal dignity should be of paramount concern and a major responsibility of the state.”
He further stated that “the Guidelines have been designed to reflect the physical, emotional and mental needs of COVID-19 patients and have provided a basis for the protection of the rights of every patient without any form of bias or discrimination, including vulnerable persons such as children, persons with disabilities and older persons.”
Following incessant violations of the rights of patients in treatment centers in some parts of the country resulting in protests and in some cases, abscondment of patients, the Commission deemed it fit to issue the Guidelines in order to ensure that the basic rights of patients are guaranteed and protected.
While commending governments and health authorities at federal and state levels for the efforts already made to put facilities in place at the centres and for other palliatives, Mr. Ojukwu urged them to “study and put mechanisms in place to implement the Standard Minimum Guidelines”, noting that patients whose rights have been violated will have the option of seeking redress before the Commission or in courts of law as provided by the Constitution.
Other major highlights of the Guidelines are the protection of medical personnel and staff of the treatment centres, persons in intensive care units and the participation of patients in clinical or drug trials.
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Mr. Lambert Opara
Director, Corporate Affairs
13 May 2020