The House of Representatives said it is working on plans to amend the National Health Act towards making healthcare service affordable to Nigerians.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said this at the opening of a three-day retreat on the act in Abuja on Friday.
“We must ensure that our healthcare system at home is robust enough to accommodate and respond to current realities, because if we have learned anything from recent events, it is that in a global crisis, it is every country for itself,” he said.
The speaker said the role of lawmakers was not limited to passing laws, as it extends to their implementation.
He said every legislation passed by the National Assembly has one ultimate goal, to improve the circumstances of people’s lives and make the country better.
The Chair, Senate Committee on Health Services, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said the previous attempts aimed at amending the bill failed due to some challenges.
“We feel that the foundation of the health sector is primary healthcare and we do not have a foundation solidly built, whatever we put on it in the secondary and tertiary cannot hold.
“My suggestion will be that as we proceed with the amendment, we should think of what we have and how to implement it because the process of law-making is tedious; we are losing time and money.
“It is only the 2018 fund that has been utilised, 2019, 2020 are yet to be utilised because of all these bottlenecks in the implementation,” he said.
The Chair of the House Committee on Health Services, Yusuf Sununu, said amending the act required deep understanding.
He said the amendment was necessary to capture new challenges in combating pandemics like COVID-19.
“In order to achieve a better outcome of the amendment, the committee invited major stakeholders in the implementation of the act ranging from the Executives, Civil Society Groups, development partners and media practitioners to rub minds with us.
“It is my belief that at the end of the retreat the capacity of the members will improve and discharging the mandate of the amendments will be less tasking,” he said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative, Paula Gutierrez, said the retreat was commendable.
She lauded the lawmakers for the initiative to amend the National Health Act towards structuring it to meet emerging health challenges.