Sex with patients: Senate proposes N200,000 fine against medical officials

• As Oloriegbe proposes N200m deduction from NHF for mental health treatment

Randy medical personnel would be facing a fine not less than N200,000 or a jail term of one year or both upon conviction oversleeping with their patients being treated for mental related case.

The same shall be applicable to officers and other support staff who are engaged as one of the personnel to assist in the management of psychiatry patient(s) in any medical facility in Nigeria.

This the proposal by the Senate in a bill entitled: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the enhancement and regulation of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, protect persons with Mental Health needs and Substances Abuse Services, for the effective management of Mental Health in Nigeria and for Other Related Matters…

Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who wants the Nigerian Senate to pass the bill seeking to deduct one per cent of National Health Fund to the management of mental health cases in the country made these proposals alongside in the National Mental Health Bill 2019.

One per cent of the National Health Fund would translate to over N200m given the size statutory one per cent deducted from the consolidated revenue. More so that the Senate proposal maintained that the Fund shall be non-taxable.

Section 64(1) captures the penalty in detail and spelt it this: “It shall be an offence under this section for a man or woman who is an officer or staff or is otherwise employed in or is one of the managers of a Psychiatric hospital or treatment facility to have sexual relationship (intercourse) with a woman or a man as the case may be who is; for the time being receiving treatment for mental and substance use related disorder in that hospital

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“Subject to his/her guardianship or otherwise in his/her custody or care under this Act in Psychiatric Hospital or other similar approved institution for the treatment of mental and substance use related disorder persons.

“For the time being receiving treatment as an out-patient. Any person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable prosecution, and on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not less than 1 year or to a fine of N200.000 or both of them. This shall not be prejudicial to any other sanctions such a person may be to from bodies to which he may belong as a member.”

The bill further proposes various sums of between N200,000 to N50,000 and custodian penalty of between six months and one year for offences related to the management of a mental patient in public and private facility.

The bill frowns at any private facility holding mental persons for treatment without being licenced by the relevant authority to do so.

Such medical facility shall be liable to have offended provisions of section 59 (1) of the National Health Bill which reads in part: “No Private Hospital or facility responsible for the treatment or certification of persons dealing with mental ill-health and substance use disorders and mental disabilities shall operate without a valid license from the Council.

“A person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction, in the case of a Private Hospital or Facility te a fine of not less than N100, 000.00 and the owner of the facility to a fine of not less than N50,000.00.”

The Senate also listed penalty for persons who willingly cause or conspire with or assists another to cause the unwarranted involuntary confinement of any person in a treatment facility under this law or the denial to any person of any of the rights accorded to a said person under this law shall be liable for punishment.

The bill stated also that: “No person shall violate the right of persons as specified under this Act.

“Any person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to 6 months imprisonment or to a fine of N100,000, or both of them,” the Senator Oloriegbe sponsored bill stated.

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