Explaining the proposed law that seeks to punish persons who impersonate as medical practitioners

In recent times, activities of quacks who parade themselves as medical practitioners have gradually snowballed with licensed hospitals even condescending to employing these quacks to work in their hospitals. These quacks, are persons who have little or no knowledge of the medical profession and are unlicensed to practice.

In a bid to curb these incidents of having unlicensed persons parade themselves as doctors and occasion hardship to innocent citizens who are mostly unaware of the defect in the qualification of such a quack, the Nigerian Medical Association Chairman Lagos Branch, Dr. Adetunji Adenekan has proposed that the Nigerian Medical Association Lagos Branch will sponsor an anti-quackery bill to the Lagos State House of Assembly in order to give legal backing to her commitment towards ridding the profession of quacks.

The proposed anti-quackery bill of Lagos State seeks to ensure that persons who parade themselves as medical practitioners when they are not licensed are prosecuted and punished accordingly.

According to Dr. Adenekan, “Having an anti-quackery law would help prosecute the perpetrators under the appropriate law instead of impersonation or other flimsy charges that hasn’t done much as a deterrent.” He added that the association would hold an anti-quackery summit in the first quarter of 2022 with relevant stakeholders to develop a strategic document that would be used to drive quality healthcare and development in the state’s health sector.

It should be emphasized that a person who is licensed to practice as a medical practitioner as stipulated by Section 6 of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act is  a person who:
(a) he has attended a course of training approved by the Council under section 9 of the Act as respects the medical or dental profession, as the case may be;
(b) the course was conducted at an institution so approved, or partly at one such institution and partly at another or others;
(c) he holds a qualification so approved; and
he holds a certificate of experience issued in pursuance of section 11 of the Act.

It is believed that with the coming into force of this bill after it has been submitted for deliberations before the Lagos state house of assembly and subsequent enactment into law, persons who parade themselves as medical practitioners when they are not will not just be made to pay charges, but will be duly prosecuted to face the full wrath of the law, as  this will serve as a deterrent to other persons. This will necessarily help in curtailing such an infamous conduct from persons who are not qualified to practice as medical practitioners and even those who are qualified but fail to take necessary steps to ensure that in employing doctors, they employ persons who are qualified to so practice.

In Lagos state, drastic actions were taken against Vedic Lifecare Hospital in Lekki for allegedly employing quacks as doctors in her facility. This is in line with the decision of the Supreme Court in MEDICAL AND DENTAL PRACTITIONERS DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL V. OKONKWO (2001) JELR 33516 (SC), where the Supreme Court had even opined that a conduct which brings disrepute to the medical profession should be penalized and of course be sanctioned for it goes against the ethics of the profession.

Flowing from the forgoing, it suffices to say that the proposed Anti—Quackery Bill of Lagos State is one that will bring back to a large extent the sanity of the medical profession and place it on the platform of excellence that it should be known for.

Etaba Agbor Agwu
Legal Content Creator, JUDY Innovative Technologies Limited

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