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Commonwealth Medical Association calls for implementation of National Health Act, urgent review of its framework

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Patients receiving treatment at a hospital


The President of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria and stakeholders in the health sector to play their respective roles in the full implementation of the National Health Act, for the good of all.

Enabulele made this call as keynote speaker on the theme: ‘’ Implementation of The National Health Act: The Bedrock for Improving the Nigerian Health Sector’’, during the opening ceremony of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) held on January 30, 2020, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Conference Centre in Abuja.

Enabulele, in his keynote address, gave a historical recall of the struggles that led to the enactment of the National Health Act in the year 2014, and highlighted some of its key features, which are designed to bring about improvements in Nigeria’s health sector.

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Acknowledging the efforts of non-state actors, the 8th National Assembly, and the Federal Government, that ensured the allocation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund in the 2018 Appropriation Act as well as its subsequent disbursement, Enabulele however stated that there were still many other significant provisions of the National Health Act yet to be given concrete expression.

These, he said, include the provision of the prescribed quality requirements and Certificate of standards aimed at quality regulation and standardization of operations in the health sector; the development of an appropriate and strategic health human resource development plan; adherence to the provisions restricting the utilization of public funds for unwarranted foreign medical travels by public officers; the practical activation of the prescribed functions of the National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee; as well as the establishment of the Emergency Medical Treatment Committee and activation of its prescribed functions, amongst other provisions yet to be implemented.

While going down memory lane on what led to the prescription of five per cent of the Basic HealthCare Provision Fund for Emergency Medical Treatment during the Senate Public hearing held on Monday, February 11, 2013, Enabulele who played a major role in the push for the enactment of the National Health Act, regretted the misinterpretation and misapplication of this provision of the National Health Act, which he averred was specifically meant for the reimbursement of healthcare providers who offered emergency medical treatment to clients/patients. He stated that it was never meant to promote procurements and purchases of ambulances, which ordinarily ought to be budgeted for by the Federal Ministry of Health and its relevant agencies. He therefore called for urgent review of the implementation framework of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.

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While urging NARD and other non-state actors and stakeholders to play more active roles in the implementation of the National Health Act, Enabulele informed that the first requirement needed for them and other stakeholders to play their roles was the acquisition of appropriate information and knowledge on the contents of the National Health Act. He therefore called for capacity building and information dissemination on the basic provisions of the National Health Act. This, he asserted, will empower the citizens to demand for expression of their health rights as well as accountability and transparency in the implementation of the National Health Act.

In his words, ‘’you can only demand for accountability and expression of your health rights if you know what is contained in the National Health Act. You cannot demand for it if you lack knowledge of its contents. So, to prevent the NHA from going the way of the Child Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act, it is important that you get informed and build your capacity to engage those in government’’.

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Earlier in his welcome address, the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, lent his voice to the complete implementation of the National Health Act. He decried the death of three doctors who lost their lives in the aftermath of the Lassa fever outbreak in Kano.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee and President, Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, FCTA, Dr. Rowland Aigbovo, appealed to the Minister of Health to assist in the realization of the National Health Act.

“We want to appeal to the Hon. Minister of Health to help expedite the full implementation of the National Health Act. The Act was signed into law about six years ago to serve as a legal framework for the regulation, development and management of our health system. The NHA was meant to set a standard for the delivery of health care to all citizens,” he said.

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NECOsahon Enabulele
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