Written by Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke
Barely four weeks after this picture was taken in the compound of our Lagos home, Oranye Ruth was hit by a car at her bus stop where she was waiting to cross the road along the Lekki Free Trade Zone. Ruth although sustaining major head injuries was still alive and was carried by onlookers to a nearby private hospital whose officials turned her away demanding a police report.
By the time the group arrived at the government hospital which was a distance away in Epe, Ruth had given up the ghost. She was just 27.
This practice of demanding for a police report before treating victims has no backing in the law, but why do hospitals still do it?
Through the month of November, I and my friend Tessa Doghor will be teaming with some of Nigeria’s biggest blogs and news organizations for the #TreatFirstQuestionsLater campaign which advocates for speedy medical attention in an emergency situation before anything else.
What we intend to do through the stories of 30 victims of this injustice is to sensitize medical personnel and the ordinary Nigerian about the existence of The 2017 Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari which mandates hospitals whether public or private to treat gunshot victims (or what looks like a gunshot victim) with or without a police report.
We aim as well to humanize these people. Prior to Ruth’s death, I had heard stories like this but it remains a story, it remains a statistic until it hits close to home and you realize that there’s little privilege can do for you when you’re at the mercy of strangers.
For the 30 days in November, we will be sharing real-life experiences of people who have lost a loved one simply because a hospital turned them away for lack of a police report and including a footnote about why this is unlawful. In the hope that a more informed medical personnel and citizenry can lead to a reduction in occurrences of this ilk.
Here’s how you can help; we currently have three stories so we need 27 more and we have been able to get the support of a few publications to run these stories, but if you have a story like this to share or know someone who does and will be willing then please send me a DM or shoot me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and cc: email@example.com. You do not need to know how to write and all pieces will be edited before publication.
Same way to contact goes if you run a blog or you’re an editor at a media house and will be interested in running one of these stories, please get in touch too. If you fall into neither of these categories and still want to help, then just share this post.
Ruth had plans, some of which included opening an orphanage and applying for the Chevening scholarship next year. None of these will happen again within this space because some irrational and supposedly trained medical staff chose to deny her emergency medical care. I do not want it to happen to anyone else.
Love and light.