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Senate Passes National Health Bill


-Okays  Umaru Ahmed’s appointment

BEVERLY HILLS, February 19, (THEWILL) – The Senate on Wednesday passed the National Health Bill 2014 after a very long  delay. It  affirmed that the  Bill would revolutionise the nation’s health sector such that it will effectively address the health needs of Nigerians.

The Senate also confirmed the appointment of Col. Umaru Farouk Ahmed (rtd) from Katsina State as a member of the Governing Board of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

After a serial clause by clause consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Health on the National Health Bill, which was laid before the Chamber by the Committee Chairman, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), the Senators unanimously passed the Bill. It is now awaiting concurrence of the House of Representatives before onward transmission to the President for his assent.

The Bill, which is for an Act to provide a Framework for the Regulation, Development and Management of a National Health System and set Standards for Rendering Health Services in the Federation, and Other Matters Connected there with, 2014  seeks to provide for the management and development of National Health System by effectively regulating the health sector.

Briefing the press on the main trust of the legislation shortly after its passage, Senator Okowa explained that the Bill which is an executive bill  also aims at regulating organ transplant as well as provide healthcare services for Nigerians of all classes, including men, women, youth, aged and the disabled citizens of the country.

The lawmaker further informed that the Bill would provide basic health funds needed to effectively finance the sector, adding that it would secure the contribution of one percent of the  Consolidated Revenue to the development of the primary healthcare, which is being catered for by the Local Governments.

He pointed out that the new bill would also help Nigeria to achieve the Universal Health Coverage and beat the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target.

Senator Okowa expressed confidence that the Bill would not only usher in a remarkable improvement in the healthcare system but would further help regulate practice in the sector and eliminate quacks while promoting professionalism.

According to him, the bill when passed into law, would provide funds for manpower development, stressing that nurses and other medical personnel in the health system would be made to undergo training and retraining.
“Primary healthcare is what we need in this country and we are supposed to have at least one primary health care centre  in every ward, but we do not have well trained personnel. We need to train them and we need to have adequate drugs and facilities,” he stated.

Furthermore, he stated that the bill would allow States to participate in the improvement of primary health centres  through a counterpart fund, which would enable them to benefit from the consolidated revenue fund. ”

Fifty  percent of the fund shall be used for the provision of basic minimum package of health services to citizens in eligible primary/ or secondary health care facilities through the National Health Insurance Scheme ( NHIS)., 20 percent of the fund shall provide essential vaccines and consumables for eligible primary healthcare facilities, 15 percent shall be for the provision and maintenance of facilities, equipment and transport for PHC facilities and 10 per cent of the fund shall be used for the development of human resources for PHC,” Okowa explained.

On the friction existing among professional bodies in the health sector, the Senator  explained that the National Health Bill was tailored to put an end to the endless crisis, as it would define responsibilities and limitations of each professional body, while it would also create opportunity for the Nigerian health practitioners to make inputs into the annual budgets of the health sector.