Doctor Urges Jonathan To Sign National Health Bill Into Law

A mental health physician, Dr Olusegun Akinwotu, on Tuesday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the National Health Bill into law to address numerous challenges facing the nation’s health sector.

Akinwotu, who is the president, Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba chapter, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to him, signing the bill into law should be a top government priority as the country celebrates its 54 years of independence.

“When we have the Healthcare Bill, we will be able to do a lot; citizens can benefit better when those policies are instituted and implemented.

“But, without signing the health bill, it will be difficult for Nigeria to achieve this. We are talking about 100 per cent health coverage, easy accessibility to health.

“We believe that Nigeria has enough resources to fund health, but if this bill is not signed into law, the funding will be difficult.

“Because, if it is signed into law, there will be budgetary provision to support it and allocation will be made.

“So, we hope in the nearest future more allocation will go to the healthcare sector, more training of personnel, and adequate health facilities to ensure that Nigerians are better catered for.

“So, tactically, there is still a lot to be done. So far, we are in an evolving stage and we are getting better gradually. “

Akinwotu, while commending the the government for its efforts so far, also called for adequate attention on health issues.

According to him, Nigerians are full of expectations from the various tiers of government as the country clocks 54 in the area of improved healthcare services.

“As a developing country, we have made some significant progress in the health sector and to some extent more Nigerians are having better access to healthcare.

“Some policies so far, for example the NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme) and other healthcare provisions are getting better in the country.

“And if you check over the years too, little increment has gone to allocation to the health sector which is part of what is required to improve any sector.

“But then, a lot more can be done. We are talking about the healthcare bill, also other bill with regards to the health sector. It is important that these bills are passed.“

The Senate had on Feb. 12 passed the National Health Bill with an assurance that it would revolutionise the nation’s health sector to effectively address health needs of Nigerians.

The bill, which is still awaiting presidential assent after months of painstaking consideration, was packaged by the Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa-led Senate Committee on Health.

The Bill is 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.”

Okowa had, shortly after its passage, told journalists that the bill sought to provide for the management and development of national health system by effectively regulating the health sector.

He said that the bill was aimed at regulating organ transplant as well as provides healthcare services for Nigerians of all classes, including men, women, youth, the aged and the disabled citizens. (NAN)

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