Court Stops Lagos Public Hospitals From Demanding Blood Donations For Childbirth

A Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja area has ordered government hospitals in the State to stop demanding compulsory blood donations from women seeking antenatal and maternity services. Justice Raliat Adebiyi gave the order in a judgment delivered on Monday and restrained the state government hospitals from demanding blood donations from spouses and other relations of pregnant women seeking antenatal and maternity services.

A non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had filed a fundamental rights suit to compel the respondents to stop the act. SERAP, on its grounds for seeking reliefs, said it had received complaints from residents of Lagos about the compulsory blood donation policy of government hospitals.

The respondents to the suit are the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Lagos State Ministry of Health, and the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State. In her judgment, Justice Adebiyi said, “The respondents’ contributions to child and maternal deaths stands to reason, although no data on the child and maternal mortalities recorded as a result of the policy was provided to the court.

“A policy that will deny citizens the right to medical care based on failure to donate blood is not only unconstitutional but unconscionable and adverse to the life and wellbeing of all citizens that access the respondents’ facilities.” Justice Adebiyi declared that the action of the respondents in demanding compulsory blood donation from those seeking maternity services was “arbitrary, unfair and a violation of their human rights as enshrined in Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution.”

She held that the actions of the hospitals and facilities were violations of and a denial of the rights of the residents of Lagos to a system of health protection. According to the judge, the health system is expected to provide equality of opportunity as guaranteed under Articles 2 (a), 3 and 12 (1) of the International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

She also declared that the actions of the Lagos government hospitals and health facilities were a denial of the right to life as guaranteed under Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution. “The respondents are hereby ordered to forthwith immediately stop and discontinue the policy of insisting on compulsory blood donations from patients or relatives of those seeking medical care and attention before accessing antenatal, maternal or any health services in the facilities of the respondents,” Justice Adebiyi ruled.

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