• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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National Health Bill suffers setback at National Assembly


The National Health Bill before the upper chamber of the National Assembly has suffered a major setback as federal lawmakers raised objections to certain clauses in the bill which seeks to fund the National Primary Healthcare Development Fund from the nation’s consolidated revenue fund, an amount not less than two percent.

They argued that the funding should be appropriated for National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) by the Federal Government, since the agency is established by an Act of Parliament.

In an interview with BusinessDay, Osahon Enabulele, national president, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said that the disagreements over the constitutionality of the minimum of 2 percent allocation to the NPHCDA from the nation’s consolidated fund, as expressed in clause 11 of the proposed Bill, should not be allowed to further deny Nigerians equitable access to healthcare services especially in rural communities.

While stating that the disagreement be amicably resolved so that the National Health Bill can be brought back on track in a bid to address inequitable access to healthcare services, Enabuele urged Nigerians not to lose hope as the journey towards the constitutional recognition of their health rights is one that must be handled courageously without room for despair.

“We call on all well-meaning Nigerians and people of conscience to rise up and encourage the National Assembly to quickly put the controversy to sleep and pass the National Health Bill, being one huge debt they owe Nigerians. We wish to call on members of the National Assembly to rally round the Health committees in finding the appropriate solution to the legislative logjam, especially in a way to secure sustainable constitutional sources of funding the minimum basic package of healthcare that Nigeria truly owes her citizens, including yet-to-be-born Nigerians,” Enabulele appealed.

Anthony Omolola, national president, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), told BusinessDay that the objection by the upper chamber to pass the health bill is a temporal shortcoming as lapses in the bill should be effectively addressed before the president assents to it to avoid issues from being raised again after its passage into law.