NASS moves to regulate private hospitals

Posted by Sunday Isuwa | 6 October 2019 | 1,382 times

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•Bill sponsor, Senator Stella Oduah

The National Assembly is set to enact a law that will effect the regulation of private hospitals across the country.

If the bill scales through, operations of private hospitals in the country will be monitored and sanctions meted on those operating below standard.

The move to regulate the hospitals is contained in the Private Hospitals Regulation Bill, 2019 (SB.13), sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North), which has passed through first reading on the floor of the red chamber.

However, the plan to regulate private hospitals comes against the backdrop of a revelation that a meagre N1,864 has been proposed to carter for the health needs of a Nigerian.

The amount was revealed in the Senate’s Legislative Agenda which was condemned by the lawmakers as inadequate. Resolving to embark on extensive reforms in the health sector, a motion calling for the integration of herbal medicine into the health system will be revisited on the floor of the red chambers.

The motion which was sponsored by Sen Stella Oduah (Anambra North) and co-sponsored by several senators was stood down at the floor of the Senate to be presented in another legislative day.

However worried by the state of the health sector, the Senate in its Legislative Agenda, declared that health provision is a concurrent responsibility of the three tiers of government that needs to be aggressively pursued especially at the foundation level through Primary Health Care.

The red chamber said, “Nigeria in 2001 had voluntarily made a commitment along with other African Countries under the auspices of African Union (AU) in what was tagged, “Abuja Declaration,” to set aside 15 per cent of her annual budget to finance healthcare development.

“Sadly, 17 years on and no administration has gone near half of the commitment. In fact, the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Health in 2018 annual budget was a little above N372.8 billion only.

“This represents 4.2% of the N8.9 trillion total budget. Further analysis shows that government plans to spend N1,864 only to cater for the health needs per head of its citizens,” the Senate said in its legislative agenda obtained by LEADERSHIP Sunday.

The lawmakers further lamented that the percentage allocation for health comes 12th on the country’s scale of priority.

“The 9th Senate will give Legislative Support to the Executive Arm of government in the number of areas mentioned above. Similarly, the Senate will collaborate with pharmaceutical and medical equipment subsector to arrest the menace of fake and substandard drugs in the country,” the lawmakers said.

Meanwhile, the move to regulate the activities of private hospitals and the plan to integrate herbal medicine into the health sector elicited different reactions from some medical professionals who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday.

The chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Abuja chapter, Dr Philips Ekpe said it’s abnormal to integrate herbal medicine into the Nigerian health sector.

Ekpe who is also the chief medical director (CMD) of Nyanya General Hospital stressed that “herbal medicine has no standard, prescription” in the world.

He said, “there is no research that has passed through the different levels of evidence-based studies. How is it regulated, who regulates it? For those who are regulating, what authority are they coming from?

“Is there a training for one to become a herbalist or are there institutions that train herbalists? Are they different from what we call native doctors? Many times, these people mix up their practice with spirituality and incantation with harmful traditional practices.

“However, I understand government wants to integrate them into the health sector in order to give them a name and be able to regulate and hold them accountable,” Ekpe said.

On the N1,864 proposed to cater for health needs of a Nigerian in a fiscal year, Ekpe said the amount will go a long way if it is actually released and utilised without mismanagement.

He said “If it is actually released and utilised without mismanagement and not siphoned thought fraud or corruption it will help.”

He added that the way out was the “Mandatory National Health Insurance Scheme and Universal Health Coverage. Increase budget for health or even the small amount should be monitored and appropriately utilised. Add one percent VAT for Health in Alcohol and smoking business, or one percent VAT on telecommunications for health,” the medical director said.

On the plan to regulate the private hospitals, Dr Ekpe who supported the idea said “every business should be regulated not just private hospital hospitals.”

The director general (DG) Kaduna State Bureau for Substance Abuse Prevention (KADBUSA), Dr Joseph Maigari told LEADERSHIP Sunday that herbal medicines that have been subjected to scientific tests can be acceptable.

Maigari who is a consultant psychiatrist however cautioned that herbal drugs that have not been tested “cannot find a place in modern medical practise.”

He also called for a budgetary provision to enable the country meet the Abuja Declaration of at least 15 percent for the health budget, noting that “keeping to it is key to providing quality healthcare”.

He also backed the move to regulate private hospitals in the country.

“Regulating private practices is very important and necessary. It should be encouraged. Even public medical practise needs closer monitoring,” he said. (LEADERSHIP)

Source: News Express

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