House of Reps steps down bill on free healthcare for pregnant women
A bill for an Act to authorise the provision of free prenatal and postnatal health services for pregnant women in government hospitals has been stepped down in the House of Representatives.
The bill which was to be read the second time on the floor of the green chamber was not debated because copies were not made available to members on time in line with the rules of the house.
Speaking earlier, the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Tony Nwoye (Anambra-PDP) said the importance of the bill cannot be over emphasised.
He said the bill seeks to ensure that every pregnant woman in the country is registered in a government hospital within three months of conception.
Nwoye said the bill seeks to educate pregnant women on the necessary steps for safe delivery and to enable them access free healthcare.
According to the lawmaker, the bill also canvassed enough time to enable women to breastfeed their babies and to extend the free medical service to three months after delivery.
He said pregnant women should be entitled to get employed and maintaining their jobs while they answer the call of procreation.
However, the Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Leo Ogor (Delta-PDP) said the bill was very important and members needed to be well informed before the debate.
According to him, members needed to consider the financial implication of the bill and other related matters before the debate.
In his contribution, the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Rep. Emmanuel Oker-Jev (Benue-APC) said he had always drawn the attention of members to the rules of the house.
He appealed to members to always abide by all the rules of the house including making copies of bills available in good time before the debate.
However, Rep. Nicholas Ossai (Delta-PDP) said the sponsor of the bill circulated the soft copy of the bill to members in good time. Ossai urged members to debate the bill because of its nature and importance to national development.
The members of the lower chamber, however, unanimously stepped down the bill. While ruling on the matter, the Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara did not mention when the bill would be debated.