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The Eerie Crossroad of Human Rights and Decency

On Friday, March 17, 2023, a Twitter user posted on social media that his kid sister could not be admitted to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), a federal hospital located at Idi-Araba, due to insufficient bed space. The unfortunate incident led to her death.

The family of the late undergraduate of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Deborah Doofan, was thrown into mourning after she died outside the hospital’s emergency ward. LUTH is a foremost tertiary hospital in Nigeria, with over 950 admission beds, forty-six clinical departments, eighteen non-clinical departments, and outreaches at both Yaba and Pakoto, with over 2,300 staff members.

The victim had been suffering from hyperthyroidism, a medical condition associated with overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in a rapid heartbeat and an increased rate of metabolism. Doofan, a 100-level banking and finance student, was studying in school when she suffered a crisis and was rushed to UNIPORT Teaching Hospital. The victim’s elder brother, Prince, said his sister had been receiving treatment in the hospital but was later diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in January 2022, reported Punch.

The hospital’s policy and decision violate the provision of the Nigerian constitution, which provides that every citizen has a right to life. A lack of access to medical care violates the right to life. If the government had provided a bed space for Deborah, her life might have been saved. Chapter 2 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria guarantees that right. This right is sacrosanct and also embedded in article 21 of the African Charter on human rights. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the right to good health is a fundamental right that should be guaranteed and provided by all countries.

I believe Doofan’s family is within their rights to pursue a civil case against LUTH and the Lagos State government. Like so many others, this case borders on the crossroad between the victims’ fundamental rights and basic human decency.
HRF facilitated the release of indigent client, Akinleye Olalekan on March 24, 2023, at an Ondo State Magistrate Court, after awaiting trial and incarcerated for 5 months. The case was struck out for want of diligent prosecution.

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