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The new law allowing treatment for gunshot wounds is good but has its fault, a top medical practitioner has said. Kue David, president of the Rivers State chapter, of the Association of Resident Doctors, hailed the signing of the new law. He says the Rivers State Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshots Law No. 3 of 2022 will ensure gunshot-related injuries are given prompt attention at medical facilities.

However, he thinks the law is one-sided in nature. He says it does not consider the welfare of medical practitioners in the private sector whose operational cost is likely to increase. He adds that the government has to make emergency supplies available for such treatment as most hospitals lack them.

Kue David, president of the Rivers State chapter, Association of Resident Doctors

“Laws are supposed to not just be for the protection of the health care personnel but healthcare facilities,” he said. “Not every gunshot injury victim is a lawful citizen. Some of them are criminal elements that put the personnel and facilities at relative risk. And then there is also the aspect of the private hospitals. We need to take into cognisance that private hospitals are private businesses. As businesses, they run the risk of running at a loss in treating these gunshot injuries the way the law states. You are going to be using your personal resources for the treatment of his victims. I have gone through some aspects of the law and I don’t think there is much provision that talks about the compensation for private doctors for supplies that have been used in the cause of the treatment of the victims”.

There should be synergy and a clear understanding between hospitals and security agencies to implement the law, David added. Without this understanding, he said the law itself is mute. The resident doctor also pointed out that treating victims is not the problem but the resources required to do so.

“The resources are not just going to be the regular resources the hospital put in place,” he said. “There has to be room for the hospital and the government to have special resources, emergency supplies that could be used for the victims. The supplies could be regularly reviewed and constantly updated so that at every given time they are supplies for use. Every hospital has a responsibility to set up its protocol. There should be a standard operating protocol that is similar to what you have in other climes. The protocol has to be properly fine-tuned at the level of the local facility in order for the protocol to smoothly run”

He further described the signing of the law as timely as the 2023 election approaches. With the electioneering period often characterised by election-related violence, he believes social upheavals could lead to gunshot injuries.

The state’s chairman of licensed security operators, Davies Kennedy, shared the need for a collaboration between hospitals and security agencies. He noted that daily reports of gunshot injuries should be sent to the police and DSS for documentation and possible investigation.

“It is a welcome development as, in most cases, those who suffer these are innocent victims given the kind of society we have,” Kennedy said. “Every known hospital has an administrative head. They call them admin Head Nurses just like what we used to have in those days in the hotel. When crimes are committed in the hotel and owners claim ignorance after all the hotel is a public place. Every day, it is expected that every hotel owner, through their management, returns to the DSS the name of every person they have had the previous day. While the doctors are treating these patients it is expected that someone from there should alert the nearest police station”.

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