It has been said that Health is wealth and only a healthy people strive to achieve a healthy nation. The situation in Nigeria’s health sector has not been very encouraging in view of the fact that health institutions right from the Primary Health Centres at the Local Government level up to the State Hospital Management Boards, Federal Medical Centres and University Teaching Hospitals at the State and Federal Government Levels respectively, the story is nothing to write home about.
In view of the foregoing, the Senate on Thursday, July 4, 2019 beamed its searchlight on some of the nation’s health institutions and programmes with a view to address the myriad of problems that had bedeviled the sector. Accordingly, two Motions that centered on improving the health institutions and health policy programmes of the government were deliberated upon and passed by the Upper Legislative Chamber.
The first Motion titled “The need for increased funding of Primary Health Care Centres” was sponsored by Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and 106 Members, that is the entire Senate.
According to Sen. Tinubu, the Primary Health Care is a grassroots, community based initiative that provides Health Care Services to Communities. She added that the Chamber is aware that it is universally accepted that access to health care for all is only possible through prevalence and accessibility of Primary Health Care.
The Senate is concerned that a lot of the problems in Nigeria’s Health Sector can be traced to low performance of the nation’s Primary Health Care Facilities. According to World Health Organization (WHO), Primary Health Care will meet 80% - 90% of a person’s health needs over the course of his/her life.
Nigeria just like other developing nations according to the WHO Service Delivery Indicators Survey shows that though available performance of the Primary Health Care is hampered by the lack of financial resources, infrastructure deficit, insufficiency/lack of drugs, equipment and vaccines. The Senate reminded Nigerians that Health Care accessibility is a fundamental right and must be treated as such. The Motion scaled through with five resolutions below:
i) Increase budgetary allocation for the management of Primary Health Care.
ii) Urge the Ministry of Health to create awareness on the benefits of Health and Life Insurance.
iii) Direct the Ministry of Employment to put in place policies to ensure that every employer of labour has Health Insurance package for employees.
iv) Direct the Ministry of Health to ensure that Government backed Health Insurance Scheme is accessible.
v) Urge the Ministry of Health at Federal and State levels to encourage medical technological innovation in Primary Health Facilities.
Similarly, the next Motion considered was titled “The urgent need to make National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) work for Nigerians”, sponsored by Sen. Oloriegbe Yahaya Ibrahim (Kwara Central) and 8 Members.
Sen. Oloriegbe noted that the Health of the nation is the wealth of the nation and human life begins and ends with health. He added that the NHIS was established by the National Health Insurance Scheme Act No. 35 of 1999, CAP N42 LFN, 2004, Vol 11 and is a beneficiary of 50% of Basic Health Care Provision Funds by virtue of Section 11 of the National Health Act 2014, to ensure that every Nigerian has access to quality and affordable health care services through the provision of affordable Health Insurance.
The Senate frowned at the poor regulation and supervision of State Social Health Insurance Agencies. Several of the States that have established their own Agencies introduced Benefit Packages, Capitation Fees and Fee for Service Tariffs that are not viable. The Motion sailed through with three prayers below:
i) Urge the NHIS to direct all Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to within Three Months settle all outstanding debt owed all Health Care Providers in Nigeria.
ii) Order for an investigation into the activities of NHIS to enable necessary actions are taken to improve the services of the Scheme for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians.
iii) Mandate the Committee on Health when constituted to properly oversight NHIS.
While, the third Motion considered and passed was titled “Benue Tanker Explosion: Urgent need to curb incessant explosions of Petroleum Tankers in Nigeria”, sponsored by Sen. Emmanuel Y. Orker-Jev (Benue North West).
The Senate noted the unfortunate explosion of a Petroleum Tanker in Ahumbe Village along Makurdi – Aliade – Otukpo Federal Highway in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State on Monday, July 1st, 2019. The Chamber regret that the villagers defied Security Personnel warning and were scooping fuel from the fallen tanker when suddenly a passenger bus maneuvering its way scratched its exhaust pipe on the road which sparked fire that killed over 50 persons and over a 100 secured various degrees of burns. The Motion scaled through with three prayers among which were:
i) Senate commiserate with the people and government of Benue State for the ugly incident and painful death of 50 persons in the inferno.
ii) Urge the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Ministry of Health to quickly intervene and assist the families affected and victims undergoing medical treatment in different hospitals.