The move by the Nigerian National Assembly to pass five bills aimed at establishment of new institutions in the Health Sector was out rightly rejected by the major stakeholders in the sector.
At a public hearing on five Bills and twelve Motions organized by the House Committee on Healthcare Services, the Ministry of Health said the establishment of the proposed institutions will amount to duplication of functions with existing ones and add to the cost of governance in the country.
The Nigerian Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, represented by the Director Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Zainab Shariff said the bill for an Act to establish the Public Health Practitioners Council of Nigeria is a duplication of efforts and in conflict with the respective acts establishing the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Primary Healthcare Development Agency as well as Africa Institute of Public Health Practitioners.
“These are regulatory bodies under the Ministry that are already performing the stated functions in this proposed bill. The Federal Government is already working to harmonize the agencies which have similar functions.” The Minister added.
While rejecting the bill for an Act to make Healthcare Services free for all children in Nigeria, the Minister said “With the current realities, economic challenges and dwindling funds, it will be difficult to have free healthcare service for children.
There should be more public enlightenment to get every child enrolled in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Community Based Health Insurance Scheme, State Health Insurance Scheme which provide healthcare service at subsidized rates.”
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the hearing open, said due to the dire realities of the country’s public finances, stakeholders should consider the possibility of achieving the bills’ objectives without imposing additional obligations on Nigeria’s public finance.
Mr. Gbajabiamila who was represented by Deputy Chief Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said the bills and motions reflect the enormous importance that the 9th House of Representatives placed on public health, access to quality healthcare and conditions of service of those who work in healthcare services across our country.
Chairman of the House Committee Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu,in his welcome address said for health to be effective, the system must be strengthened and resilient to be able to absorb shock as witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.