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National Health System bill scales second reading

13 December 2012, 12:13

Abuja - A bill to provide a framework for regulation, development and management of a national health system passed through the  second reading at  the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill seeks to set standards for rendering of health services by healthcare providers in the federation, among others.

All the lawmakers who made contributions during the debate were unanimous in their support for the bill.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa said that the bill aimed to provide a legal framework for the management of materials and personnel in the sector.

Okowa said that the bill was also out to provide a legal framework to harmonise the elements of the national health system to improve healthcare delivery services.

``The bill provides for the establishment of a National Health System and the National Council on Health.

``The functions of the Federal Ministry of Health and that of the national council will be clearly spelt out,’’ he added.

In his own remarks, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri (PDP-Bayelsa), however, questioned the legality of National Assembly to legislate on the issues that were neither in the exclusive list or the concurrent list.

``We cannot legislate on the health bill as it was not an exclusive or concurrent matter but a residual matter which is a sole prerogative of State Houses of Assembly,’’ he added.

But the Senate President Sen. David Mark said that the quick passage of the bill would assist the reformation of the healthcare delivery in the country.

``I don't think there is anything that stops us from passing this bill.

``You will see that the bill ought to have been passed yesterday. There is urgency and haste for us to have this bill passed.

``If things go wrong you can't sue because there is absolutely nothing protecting the patient from the professional who is negligent in one form or the other.

Mark vowed that the power struggle in the health sector would not stop the National Assembly from passing the bill.

He directed the Health Committee to make further inputs into the bill and submit its report in four weeks.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that a similar bill was passed in the sixth assembly by both chambers of the National Assembly but failed receive the President's assent.



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