By CHIOMA OBINNA
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Lagos State branch, has predicted chaos if the Federal government goes ahead to pass the proposed controversial National Health Bill, NHB, in its present state.
Noting that the Nigerian healthcare sector deserves a Health Act that must be packaged to be time tested, the PSN is calling for immediate amendment of controversial sections in the Bill to provide what they described as a template that will protect the interest of all stakeholders in healthcare and ultimately serve public interest in similar spirit.
Areas the PSN is calling for amendment include Section 9 (2) (a), section 6 (2), (f), (g), (h)and section 13. It also wants Sections 48 to 50 of the Bill deleted.
Speaking in Lagos, the State Chairman of PSN, Akintunde Cornelius Obembe who affirmed that the NHB was a genuine attempt to develop a health system and a requisite source of information mechanisms, frowned at the contentious provisions in the 2008 Bill that had generated arguments, having passed through second reading in the Parliament, and had restrained the president from giving an assent. Obembe maintained that there was danger allowing the Bill as it is to be passed into law, warning that if the grey areas were not addressed now, posterity may pay dearly for it, and then, it would be too late to correct when the blunders are eventually admitted.
“We are clamouring for a NHB that is all in inclusive, that would encourage teamwork and which cannot discriminate among the practitioners because everyone’s role is distinct in patient management. We cannot allow it to be passed under this present structure, if not, there will be chaotic problems both in the administrative process and harmony among professional bodies”
“We wish to draw the attention of the government to recent recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Harmony in the health sector, which identified vesting of headship of Federal Health Institutions and the health sector in a particular profession as one of the drawbacks in the health planning, which also places the sector in permanent state of entropy.
“There is therefore no alternative to creating a level playing ground for the most competent health personnel to emerge as the head of the Agencies in section9(2)(a)’” Obembe said.
Arguing that the Government had not been able to address the issue due to politics, he said the Bill can create more confusion.
He blamed the ongoing strike by the Joint Health Sector Unions on dissatisfaction with government’s policy of making doctors to be in charge whether experienced or not “ and this justifying our position as far as the proposed NHB is concerned. We are appealing to relevant organs of government t ensure peace in this very important sector.
“This group has been clamouring for changes that will revolutionalise it for optimal performance by all the professionals that make up the healthcare team. The idea of pampering one of the members of the team without any regards to others will continue to engender disharmony and that will not bring progress to the sector,” he added.
Obembe who also spoke on the society’s forthcoming Pharmacy Week tagged: “Safe Pharmaceutical Care as a Tool in National Health Development” reassured Nigerians that the Week would address various lapses in Nigeria’s health sector.
Chairman, Planning Committee of the Week, Ken Onuegbe said programmes for the Week were carefully selected to impact positively on pharmacists, patients and the country in general while the Secretary, Lagos PSN, Odeyemi Michael Folarin said the NHB will be possible if all professional bodies will keep their egos and work as a team.