BY LAWRENCE ETIM
The National Health Bill passed the third reading on Wednesday in the senate as ample of Senators giving their assurances that the law would revolutionize the nation’s health sector.
After months of meticulous consideration, members of the upper chamber unanimously passed the bill, which now awaits presidential assent. The bill, titled, “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”, was packaged by the Senator Ifeanyi Okowa-led Senate Committee on Health.
Mr Okowa spoke with journalists on the main thrust of the legislation shortly after its passage, and explained further that the bill sought to provide for the management and development of the nation’s health system by effectively regulating the sector.
He however emphasized that the bill was aimed at regulating organ transplant as well as provide health care services for Nigerians of all classes.
The Senator said the bill, when fully passed into law, would provide funds for manpower development, and that nurses and other medical personnel in the health system would be made to undergo training and retraining.
“Primary health care is what we need in this country and we are supposed to have at least one primary health care centre in every ward, but we do not have well-trained personnel. We need to train them and we need to have adequate drugs and facilities,” he said, adding that the bill would allow states to participate in the improvement of primary health centres through a counterpart fund, which would enable them to benefit from the consolidated revenue fund.
Okowa concluded by elaborating on how the funds are allocated. “Fifty per cent of the fund shall be used for the provision of basic minimum package of health services to citizens, in eligible primary/ or secondary health care facilities through the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“Twenty per cent to provide essential vaccines and consumables for eligible primary health care facilities, 15 per cent for the provision and maintenance of facilities, equipment and transport for PHC facilities and 10 per cent of the fund shall be used for the development of human resources for PHC”.