April 13, 2024

Lawyers have been tasked to use their expertise to advocate for a robust legal framework to hold healthcare providers accountable and ensure equitable access to healthcare.

Mr Yaw Acheampong Boafo, President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), said it was the unique responsibility of lawyers to champion healthcare justice

“Through strategic actions, we can shape a legal landscape that facilitates a responsive and compassionate health care system. Let us empower our citizens with legal knowledge and legal representation.”

Mr Boafo was speaking at the opening of the African Bar Association (ABA) Medical Law Committee Annual Conference 2024 in Accra, Ghana.

The two-day conference is on the theme: “Healthcare System in Africa; Getting Stakeholders and Health Providers More Responsive under the Law.”

Topics to be discussed include: “The radical child sexualization agenda of West on African Nations”,” Doctor Patient Relationship in Africa: Challenges and the Way forward,” “Determinant Challenges Associated with Citizenship by Birth in IVF Cases, the way forward,” and “Preservation of life and Stakeholders perceptions on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Africa.”

The GBA President stressed the need for lawyers to collaborate with policymakers to create laws that would address healthcare disparities would ensure that no citizen was left behind.

Mr. Boafo appealed to lawyers to do more pro bono work for citizens whose rights to health were affected detrimentally to gain justice and sanitize the health care system through court actions.

“By promoting our resolve to assist persons whose right to health are affected, we equip individuals to demand their rights, compelling healthcare providers and stakeholders to be more responsive and accountable.”

According to Mr Boafo, challenges that undermined healthcare systems and service delivery also undermined people’s fundamental human rights.

The GBA President said one of the major challenges undermining healthcare delivery was corruption.

He said corruption did not only promote substandard care but also reduced efficiency and increased mortality.

Mr Boafo said corruption in healthcare also manifested in various forms, including absenteeism, diversion of patients to private facilities, inappropriate procurement, informed payments, and theft of drugs and supplies.

“Weak moral values, acceptance of inappropriate practices, and poor working conditions contributed to corrupt practices in the African Healthcare system.

Mr Boafo noted that the shortage of human resources was also a challenge in the healthcare sector, adding that few health professionals were leaving the continent for greener pastures.

He therefore called for effective data for planning purposes, effective leadership on the part of the government, and management of health institutions in all Africa’s healthcare systems.

Dr. Friday O. Agbo, Chairman, of the Medical Law and Ethics Committee, of the African Bar Association, said the committee would embark on a membership drive across the continent of Africa through information sharing, and virtual communication, among others.

Dr Agbo urged members to be ambassadors of the Committee by ensuring professionalism and compliance of ethical standards by all health workers as well as eliminating quackery among health professionals.

We must ensure that “all cases of medical malpractices in any country within the continent are exposed and reported to the Committee.”

The committee will work towards ensuring better medical and ethical practices in Africa by collaborating with government, health institutions, professionals, and Civil Society organizations, he said.

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