By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
WORKERS under the aegis of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, MHWUN, have rejected the National Health Bill, and warned of dire consequences should it be signed into law.
In a petition entitled “Request to withhold assent to the National Health Bill”, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and Pastor Marcus Omokhuale, National President and Secretary-General of the Union respectively, are pleading with President Goodluck Jonathan not assent to the bill, but to return it to the National Assembly to rework and accommodate stakeholders’ positions.
In the petition, it was stated that the health sector is made up of multi-professional groups having statutory regulatory bodies (councils and boards) charged with specific responsibilities of defining and providing regulatory standards for the professional practice of each of the groups.
According to the duo: “During our input on the bill to the Senate Committee on Health, we made this clear enough that the section is contradictory and attempts to usurp powers already given to similarly existing bodies such as Environmental Health
Officers’ Registration Council, Community Health Practitioner Coun cil of Nigeria, and Radiographers Registration Council of Nigeria etc.
“This, in itself has put the bill on a nullity. We wish that the National Health Act should provide a level playing field to allow health professionals practice their professions as provided by their different regulatory bodies without inhibition, The noted.
Furtrher, they said: “The commission in itself as structured is administrative and by arrogating the headship of various administrative positions in the health sector exclusively to the medical doctors, further leaves one in doubt about the sincerity of the bill itself.
“Noting these contradiction and conflicts, it is the considered position of this union that His Excellency, in the interest of the healthcare delivery system and the teeming Nigerians who are distraught over the falling standards in the sector should withhold his assent to the bill.
“We wholly stand for a progressive and process driven National Health Bill towards systematising the structures, mechanisms and processes of the country’s national health system.
“We as well categorically stand against the sole exclusion of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) from membership of the National Council on Health amongst the myriad of associations/unions in the sector. The MHWUN as His Excellency may be aware is the single union that organizes not less than 17 Health Professionals and not less than 60 percent of the entire workforce in the health sector.”