By Sunday Oyinloye
With only few days to the expiration of the tenure of members of the 8th National Assembly, the National Advocates for Health in Nigeria have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently assent to three Health Bills on his table for the sake of wellbeing of Nigerians.
The Bills are: National Health Insurance Commission Bill, FCT Health Insurance Agency Bill and FCT Primary Health Care Development Agency Bill.
The National Advocates for Health explains the consequences of the President not assenting to the bills “. The implication of not giving assent to these bills before 9th June is the fact that they will have to be returned to the 9th National Assembly for consideration and undergo another long legislative process. We hope Mr. President will do the needful by assenting to these passed bills.”
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the Chair, National Advocates for Health, Professor Oladapo Ladipo who was represented by his vice, Hon. Mohammed Usman while commending President Buhari for approving the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and the Catastrophic Health Fund as appropriated, appealed to him to also assent to the three important health bills.
The National Advocates for Health established in 2017 is a 26-member policy and advocacy think-tank comprising of distinguished individuals from diverse professional backgrounds committed to influencing national and state level health financing policies and programmes.
Ladipo commended the 8th National Assembly for impacting on health care services. According to him, the National Assembly appropriated N51.22b as the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) in 2019 budget in line with Section 11 of the National Health Act 2014.
He explains further: “For the first time ever, the National Assembly appropriated money for the establishment of Catastrophic Health Fund (CHF) which will support the financing of the top three cancers in Nigeria (Breast, Prostate and Cervix). This fund is available for only those means tested as poor and vulnerable. Also for the first time in the history of Nigeria, USD250M financing was allocated to address Immunization and Nutrition.”
The Advocates Chair also listed four important bills passed by 8th the National Assembly which are “The National Health Insurance Commission Bill which provides a policy framework that made Health Insurance mandatory in Nigeria ,the bills to establish the FCT Health Insurance Agency and the FCT Primary Health Care Development Board, the amendment of the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria Establishment Act which provides for task shifting endeavors and also to promote private investments in the pharmaceutical sector and bills to establish the Health Information Practitioners Council and Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria which will help to achieve professionalism and promote global best practices among health information practitioners and chemists respectively”
Ladipo also commended the immediate past Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole in ensuring the disbursement of N12.7Billion to the respective CBN dedicated account of the NHIS, NPHCDA and NCDC for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund
In his words: “This is commendable and a demonstration of leadership, accountability and transparency and we call on the leadership of the NHIS, NPHCDA and NCDC to follow suit and disburse funds to the state government agencies within the shortest possible time in line with the signed and agreed operational manual. This will improve insurance coverage for the vulnerable women and children, improve primary health care and immunization and response to diseases outbreaks and preparedness”.