The House of Representatives has passed for a second reading, a bill for an act seeking to increase penalty for quackery in the medical profession.
The bill, if eventually passed into law will increase penalty for quackery from N5000 to N1m and N10,000 to N10m respectively, as well as increase offenders’ jail term to either five or ten years.
The Bill, which seek to amend the provisions of the medical and dental practitioners Act, was sponsored by Hon. Dozie Ferdinand Nwankwo.
Leading debate on the Bill, the lawmaker said that the purpose is to amend the provisions of Section 17(5) (a) and (b) of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, by increasing the punishment prescribed for offenders.
Section 17(5) (a) and (b) of the Act prescribed punishments of fines between N5,000 (five thousand naira only) and N10, 000 (ten thousand naira only) against the practice of quackery and others.
According to Hon. Nwankwo, the amendment sought to bring the punishment prescribed in the Act to conform with the present day realities.
“This Bill seeks to upgrade the punishment of offenders as provided for under Section 17(5) (a) and (b) of the Act by increasing the fines and terms of imprisonment to at least N1,000,000 (One million naira only) and five years imprisonment and N5,000,000 (Five million naira only) and 10 years imprisonment respectively as punishment for the offences provided for under Section 17 of the Act,” he said.
The lawmaker said that no punishment can be severe enough to punish quackery, adding that by increasing the punishment it would send a strong message to others to desist from such act.
He said: “The truth of the matter is that no punishment can be severe enough to punish quackery in the medical and dental profession. While it is often said that lawyers mistakes end up in prison, doctors mistake end up in the graveyard.
“The consequences of quackery are often times irremediable. A situation where punishments provided for under the Act provides for fine as low as N5000 (Five thousand naira); N10,000 (Ten thousand naira) is indeed one begging for a review.
“By the passage of this Bill, increasing the punishment prescribed under Section 17 (5) (a) and (b) of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M8 LFN 2004, this Honourable House will be sending a very strong message that acts of quackery where medical practice is misrepresented can no longer be condoned. The lives of our country men and women remains sacrosanct and everything should be done to preserve and legislate avoidable deaths out of existence.”
In the Act, those who are not medical practitioners, but used the title of physician, surgeon, doctor or licentiate of medicine for or in expectation of reward and also if the Registrar or any other person employed by the Council wilfully makes any falsification in any matter relating to the register shall be guilty of an offence under the Section.