Former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), University of Jos, and Consultant General (Surgeon) Prof. Benjamin Ugwu, has implored his colleagues in the medical profession to respect the privacy and sanctity of their patients while treating them of their ailments.
Ugwu also urged doctors not to allow considerations such as age, creed, ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation, social standing, religion or any other factor to intervene between their duty and their patients.
He stated this at the weekend while speaking on the 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) held in Lamingo, Jos.
Our Correspondent reports that Ugwa, as the guest lecturer spoke on the theme “New Physicians’ Oath and its Role in Contemporary Medical practice.”
Referring to the new physicians’ pledge declaration of the World Medical Association (WMA) which was later christened “Universal Declaration of Geneva” in 1948, Ugwu admonished them to practice the profession with conscience and dignity in accordance with good medical practice which respect secrets which are confided in them even after their patients have died.
He traced the reason behind the physicians’ oath which he said was due to genocide and atrocities committed during the Second World War, charging them that whatever happened, they must give service to humanity and not compromise their calling because without the patients, there would be no medical doctors.
Ugwu admonished the young and old doctors to let their patients feel a sense of human dignity even after they have been discharged from the hospital.
While dealing with the patient, according to him, words of command should be avoided but words of encouragement and soft and harmless words should be used throughout, advising that doctors should not add unnecessary additional burden to the patients because they are already carrying a burden.
Ugwu emphasized the importance of communication skill for doctors in their dealing with the patients to make them fulfilled so that they feel comfortable to want to see the doctors next time.
In his welcome address, President of the ARD, Dr. Paul Agbo, observed that it is common to hear people say that doctors are not supposed to go on strike but rarely do you hear that doctors are not supposed to be owed.
“And you now have an anomalous situation where doctors are owed months of salary arrears but such doctors are expected to provide service quietly without complaints. It is a common place to see doctors who are being owed several months of salaries and allowances being reminded of the “Hippocratic oath” when a patient owes for services rendered, claiming that the oath makes it unethical for a doctor to expect and recover payment,” Agbo contended.
The doctors’ early oath was called ‘Hippocratic oath’ in honour of the father of medicine, Hippocrates. “The oath basically dealt with confidentiality and non-malfeasance. It has undergone several amendments notably by the World Medical Association in 1948 with its re-christening to Geneva Declaration.
“However, a more comprehensive review was undertaken in 2017 and a new physician pledge was produced to become effective in 2019. As desirable as these changes are, there must be a concerted effort to see that they are institutionalized.
“Those in a position of authority should ensure that they, as much as possible, begin to endorse the principles so enshrined otherwise the abuse will continue and the pledge would just remain a pledge,” he added.
Kingsley Chukwuka, Jos