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Friday, February 28, 2014

National Health Bill has been Passed (Finally) NMA Applauds Senate

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has lauded the Senate over the passage of the National  Health Bill which had been pending in the house for the past seven years.
According to the NMA President, Dr Osahon Enabulele, “we  received with a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment the news of the passage of the National Health Bill by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“NMA applauds the Senate, particularly the leadership of the Senate ably led by Senator David Mark and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa-led Senate Committee on Health, for their dispassionate consideration and passage of the National Health Bill.
Osahon said, if the bill is signed into an Act, it will provide minimum package of basic healthcare services, including the provision of free medical care for children under five years of age, pregnant mothers, elderly people with disabilities, as well as improved funding for primary health care through the setting up of a National Primary Healthcare Development Fund, to be majorly funded with a percentage of the Consolidated Fund of the Federation.
This undoubtedly, he stated, will re-energise Nigeria’s primary health care system, provisions for the protection, promotion and fulfilment of the rights of Nigerians to have access to health care services.
Osahon elated that, the National Health Bill captures the legitimate aspirations of Nigerians for greatly improved access to quality healthcare services, aside from engendering an equitable healthcare system, the Bill when it becomes law will ensure that deaths amongst Nigerians, particularly the rural poor, as a result of inability to pay for healthcare services including medical care for emergencies will be drastically reduced to the bearest minimum.
He said, the bill provisions will boldly attempt to tackle the vexatious issue of medical tourism and its current negative impact on Nigeria, as well as the gross abuse of tax payers’ money on account of the incessant foreign medical trips by political and public office holders in search of foreign medical attention for medical conditions that can effectively be treated in Nigeria.
Osahon added: “The bill also, provides for stricter regulation of all medical referrals abroad and emphasises greater collaboration between public and private health care facilities in Nigeria.
“It is no longer a news that lots of Nigerians, including top political office holders travel frequently to other countries in search of medical care even for medical conditions that can be satisfactorily managed in Nigeria.
“Available evidence shows that over 5,000 Nigerians visit India and other countries every month for medical tourism with lots of these Nigerians faced with various risks and challenges including misdiagnosis, legal and ethical issues, exposure to infectious diseases, as well as other complications, particularly post-surgical complications.
“On the average, over $800million dollars is lost annually by Nigeria on account of foreign medical trips.
“The passage of the National Health Bill will help to substantially reverse the trend of frequent and sometimes unnecessary foreign medical trips, and make Nigeria a destination for medical tourism.”
He said, the provisions seek to enthrone quality healthcare facilities and services throughout Nigeria, through requirements for a Certificate of Needs and Standards before setting up public and private health facilities, provide for the regulation, standardization, due diligence, accountability, monitoring and evaluation of the health system and its performance.
This, Osahon said, “will guarantee the sustained performance and improvement of Nigeria’s health system, and substantially reduce acts of quackery in the health sector .”
“We assure all Nigerians that the NMA shall continually ensure that their health rights are secured in more fundamental ways through the enthronement of a National Health Act,” he added.

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