African doctors have converged on Abuja to participate on the regional Meeting on End of Life Issues, organised by the Nigerian Medical Association with collaboration from the World Medical Association.
The conference has as its theme: ” An Excursion into the End-of-Life Spectrum: Defining the boundaries between Palliative care, Euthanasia and Physician-assisted suicide”.
Speaking at the conference, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Nigerian minister of health Professor Isaac Adewole said Nigeria awaits the recommendations of the conference which will aid the improvement of the health system.
The president appreciated the World Medical Association for providing the environment for its members to share knowledge, build consensus on medical ethics, professional competence and freedom.
He also used the opportunity to appreciate the Nigeria Medical Association for its contribution to national development and assured that the Nigerian government has in regards to palliative care, put measures in place to help Nigerians in the end of life journey.
“In Nigeria, provision of affordable health care is a key priority of our Administration. The aim is to ensure that all Nigerians, especially the poorest, have access to basic, quality healthcare; that mothers deliver their babies safely and that Nigerian children live past the age of five. In line with this we have put in place, a National Health Policy that ensures that Nigeria is well positioned to enter into the post 2015 sustainable development agenda era, having the right enabling and supporting policy environment, while ensuring alignment with existing and emerging global and local health development movements”.
On his part, the Nigerian Senate President, Bukola Saraki, represented by the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Lanre Tejuosho, urged the participants to have the African health sector in mind in their delineations.
“As leaders of the medical proffession in Africa, I envision the state of health in Africa and its people occupy your mind as you share experiences and delibrate on ways to improve on the health status of the African region,” the senate president said.
The President of the Nigerian Medical Association Dr. Mike Ogirima, said the conference aims to establish Africa’s position on palliative care and physician assisted suicide.
“The World Medical Association wants to hear an African voice in this topical issue. We need to strengthen hand that not only treating curable diseases, there are diseases, what we call the terminally ill patients suffering from those diseases and they must die a qualitative death,” Ogirima said.
The President of Kenyan Medical Association, Dr. Jacqueline Kitulu, said Africa has similar health issues which require domestic approach.
She noted that that Kenya has a policy on palliative care but is still exploring the question of euthanasia.
From Zambia and South Africa came similar the opinions that physician assisted suicide were illegal.