As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims 2020, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has enjoined all road users in Nigeria to improve on road safety behaviour and consciousness, especially since most road crashes in the country are attributable to inappropriate road user behaviour and as such are preventable.
Dr. Ehanire made this call while giving the keynote address to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic Crashes 2020, held 10th November, 2020 at the National Press Centre, Radio House Abuja.
According to him, “We are all road users and we all have a part in reducing road crashes, whether as a driver, cyclist, passenger, or pedestrian. Good road user behaviour means that while operating a vehicle, drivers should not use the phone or text and should not drink or use other substances that impair judgement; drivers should adhere to specified speed limit and ensure use of provided safety gadgets for all passengers; and plan properly for travel by ensuring good condition of the vehicle.”
The Honourable Minister of Health further pointed out that passengers distracting drivers and pedestrians crossing roads inappropriately also contribute to road crashes. He also enjoined that the parties responsible for road safety must also play their role in enforcing road safety regulations, maintaining adequate road infrastructure, and construction of safer roads.
Dr. Ehanire expressed disappointment that although this year marks the end of the 1st UN Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention, many low and middle income countries including Nigeria were unable to reach up to 30% of the global target to reduce road crashes by 50% by 2020. This, he said was highlighted at the 3rd Ministerial Conference in Sweden in February, 2020, where the performance of various member states on the Decade of Action on Road Safety was reviewed.
Speaking further, the Honourable Minister noted that while it may not be possible to completely eliminate road crashes, the Federal Government is working to save as many lives as possible with prompt and efficient post-crash response. To this end, a National Emergency Medical Treatment Committee (NEMTC) has been inaugurated, as stipulated in the National Health Act, charged with the responsibility of administering the 5% proportion of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) designated for emergency medical treatment.
He explained that the National Emergency Medical Treatment Committee (NEMTC) is a Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) multi-stakeholder, private sector-led committee, including civil society organizations (CSO), tasked with ensuring access to prompt and quality emergency medical care to all Nigerians, at the time of need, without recourse to social status and ability to pay. “This is a public service innovation designed to provide available, accessible, quality, affordable and sustainable emergency medical system for all persons in Nigeria at the time of need”, he said.
He said the initiative will eliminate the demand for deposits, payment or police reports before attending to persons requiring emergency care adding that the NEMTC is presently formalizing the commencement of a pilot scheme for the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (NEMSAS) within the FCT, which will subsequently be replicated across the country.
The World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is observed on the third Sunday of November each year across the world in remembering the many millions killed or injured in road crashes and their families and communities, as well as to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police, roadsafety personnel and medical professionals who daily deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury. The theme of the commemoration this year is ‘REMEMBER, SUPPORT, ACT.’
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Media, FMOH.