Senate Passes National Health Bill

The senate has passed the National Health Bill after several months of delays and postponements. The bill, which was first passed by the 6th National Assembly in 2011, was not assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan at the time due to the reservations of some healthcare professionals and civil society groups on some of its provisions, especially on tissue and organ transplants. Its revised version, which passed third reading in the Senate recently, seeks to provide the framework for the regulation of the nation’s health sector.
The bill, entitled “A Bill 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 Therewith, 2012”, will, among other things, stipulate how kidney and other body organ transplants can be done in the country. It will also regulate the use of blood and blood products.
Before this bill, the implantation of tissues in the country had not been regulated. As such, errors or wrongs that might arise during such organ transplants due to negligence or incompetence could not be prosecuted in the law courts because of the absence of a regulatory framework and laws to guide the process.
Additionally, the bill provides that one percent of funds accruable to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) should be deployed by the Federal Government to promote primary health care, as well as provide insurance to certain classes of Nigerians who are deprived. The fund, according to reports, will be dedicated to the provision of primary healthcare, generally. At least 50 percent of the fund will be utilised by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for the purpose of providing health coverage to pregnant women.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has lauded the bill and stressed that it will address the problems of impunity and recklessness, the challenge of infrastructure decay and other noticeable lapses in the Nigerian health sector. Okowa further explained that the bill will also provide funds for manpower development as nurses and other medical personnel in the health system will undergo training and retraining.
Reservations earlier expressed on the bill include the fact that its Sections 51 and 52 gave so much powers to the Minister of Health to traffic in human eggs at this time that trading in embryos and embryonic stem cell research have become multi-billion dollar businesses. The controversial sections also reportedly allowed hospitals and medical doctors to harvest human organs for cloning and other therapeutic purposes. Those who objected to these sections of the bill had then argued that some unscrupulous persons may exploit them for commercial purposes in the absence of effective policing system, judicial checks and regulatory policies.
(Excepts from The Sun)



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Senate Passes National Health Bill

The senate has passed the National Health Bill after several months of delays and postponements. The bill, which was first passed by the 6th National Assembly in 2011.