Nigeria, five others reject physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia

Michael Ogirima Ozovehe

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Medical Associations of South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Cote D’ivore have rejected euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Euthanasia refers to when a doctor ends a person’s life by a painless means, while assisted suicide is helping a patient take his own life, if he requests it.

NMA President, Mike Ogirima, after the World Medical Association’s (WMA) Regional Meeting at the weekend in Abuja, said euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide contravene the laws of the land and the ethics of medical profession.

Ogirima argued that instead of adopting the methods, palliative care for the terminally ill should be encouraged in African countries.

He said: “Bostwana, Zambia are already implementing some guidelines on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Nigeria has a guideline. But it has not been adopted as a national guideline. Countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland have legalised euthanasia. The African voice has never been heard on the issue.

“We do not want Europe to determine our fate. This is the first time this topic is being discussed on African soil. It is an opportunity for the world to hear our voice on this issue. People of African origin may change their fate in future but the belief now is that we reject euthanasia and physician-assisted death.”

The NMA president observed that many African countries are characterised by poor healthcare institutions and poor healthcare finances, with low government budgets for healthcare.

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