By Dennis Agbo
THE new Minister for Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has asked the National Assembly to quickly work on the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, bill before them to make a law, which he said will help the health ministry in achieving its mandate of providing adequate health care for Nigerians as contained in section 15 and 16Â of the countryâ€™s constitution.
Prof. Chukwu stated that his ministryâ€™s management would be meeting with the health committees of both Chambers of the National Assembly very soon to work out modalities for effective passage of the bill and other areas of collaboration between relevant stakeholders in the health sector.
The Health Minister, who spoke in Abakaliki, weekend, when he paid an emergency visit to the Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki, said that the law when passed, would ensure the full establishment of the National Health Institution Commission, which will oversee the activities of health institutions in the ministry, such as the Federal Medical Centres.
â€œThough the Commission has commenced operation with an office and members of staff, due to a special arrangement with the presidency, it still needs the backing of relevant laws for efficient operation,â€ Chukwu said. He noted that though he was not involved in the planning of the ministryâ€™s budget for 2010, he would ensure the judicious utilization of funds to achieve its overall objectives.
â€œThe Ministryâ€™s management would soon be meeting to work on the implementation plans and ensure that due to the available short period, it would place its priorities on policies and actions that would have the desired impact on the greatest number of people.
â€œThis will also ensure the justification of supplementary budgetary provisions if the need arises and which would be in conformity with the revised work plan which the Ministry would be adopting,â€ he said.
Chukwu noted that he would ensure the improvement of the nationâ€™s Health Development Index, which has been a source of worry to the government.
â€œWe have to check the high mortality rate especially among women and children, and ensure the revitalization of both primary and secondary health care sectors to avoid the situation where most Nigerians prefer to seek medical attention abroad,â€ he said.
The Medical Director of the FMC Abakaliki, Dr. Olisaemeka Ezeonu informed the Minister, that the institution improved upon its integrated outreach programme, which seeks to improve health care delivery services in the rural areas especially in reducing the of maternal mortality rates in those areas.