…Issues 2-Week Ultimatum To Shut Down Facilities
Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
The Cross-River State government has given a two-week ultimatum to quack medical practitioners operating in the state to quit the business or be ready to face the wrath of the law.
The warning came on the heels of complaints made in some quarters that several unqualified individuals have been operating in the state, even when they lacked operational license to function.
Giving the warning yesterday in Calabar, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, expressed government’s displeasure over the existence of some unregistered medical facilities operated by quacks in the state.
Describing as unfortunate a situation where unqualified individuals infiltrate the state from neighboring villages to brainwash community residents that they have cure for certain ailments, even when they lacked the capacity to do so, a situation Edu said had been responsible for numerous deaths; she said that since assumption of office as the state Commissioner for Health, she has received a lot complaints from worthy Cross-Riverians about the invasion of quacks, taking over medical practice and depriving genuine practitioners of the profession, who had been up to date in terms of certification and tax payment opportunity of reaping where they had sown.
Edu said that has been responsible for several number of preventable deaths, particularly in the rural communities across the state, stressing that should this development not checked, many stand the risk of losing their lives due to quacks invading the system.
She said, “Families are hurting from what they see as needless deaths. Others have suffered irreversible bodily harm. Many have invested their hard-earned money seeking health from quacks, who are now on the prowl across our landscape.
“During my January tour, I and my team were met with the reality. Our healthcare industry has largely been running in autopilot mode with little regulations.
“Efforts planned to address the findings were temporary suspended due to the pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the pandemic exposed more of these weaknesses.”
Lamenting how some professionals, who ought to make the system work, were the very ones operating unregistered medical facilities with others operating outside the scope of their licenses with aliens facilities which has questionable status, Dr Edu said, “We have alien facilities possessing questionable status, like hospitals, pharmacies and chemists, maternity homes, mortuaries, laboratories, physiotherapy homes.
“There are cases where operators have no evidences of business practice permits. Some have no evidence of possessing requisite professional registration licenses. Many of these quacks invade our communities from neighbouring states.”
The commissioner stated that despite warnings from the state government that people should desist forthwith from establishing illegal medical facility in the state so as not to put the health of the residents in jeopardy, the perpetrators have continued to turn deaf ears.
She added, “The public must also know that we do not authorize motorized or any form of hawking in medicinal products or services.
“Organizers of outdoor/indoor health outreaches should seek authorization from the Ministry of Health before opening their camps in Cross River State.
“We have information about criminals in the industry. These individuals can be seen lurking around our rural and urban communities, where they feed fat from the seeming lack of effective regulatory oversight.
“One would imagine that the crime of ‘fasciotomy’ where a person is given a skin cut for a surgery that never took place is gone behind us. But no, our people still get swindled by con men, who must be removed and the system made safe for the legitimate taxpaying healthcare practitioners.”
Following from this development, the state government intends to deal decisively with any of the practitioners whose facility failed the test in the thematic investigation to be carried out by the state government; and such owners would have to face prosecution, imprisonment and closure of facilities may follow.
Edu added, “We want to avoid these sad consequences. We are not only after the criminals. The exercise is also designed to support the legitimate operators and their business. A training desk has been set up to help with skill and knowledge transfer according to needs.”
Stressing that those who fail in noncritical nonconformities shall be assisted through the mentorship program to upgrade appropriately; the commissioner urged all concerned to use the next two weeks to determine their status and do the needful, advising that owners of unregistered facilities should proceed to prefect their status immediately.
She said, “These clean-up activities have become more urgent as government ushers in the Ayadecare Health Insurance programs.”