As bill to stop medical tourism passes 2nd reading
By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives, yesterday, mandated its Committee on Aviation to liaise with relevant agencies of the Federal Government to ensure that the rights of airlines’ passengers were respected by the operators.
The House also passed into second reading a bill promoted by Sergius Ogun, seeking to end medical tourism in Nigeria.
This development was based on a motion promoted by Yusuf Tajudeen (Kogi, PDP) on the floor of the House.
While presenting the motion, Tajudeen noted that there had been consistent disregard and outright violation of the rights of air passengers by local airline operators.
The lawmaker further noted that many anomalies, which ranged from flight delay to ill-treatment of passengers and discriminatory fares by airline operators, were portraying Nigeria in bad light.
He added that besides passengers not getting value for their monies, some airline operators devised shady and unwholesome practices in their respective local engagements.
While urging the House to pass the motion, Tajudeen noted that due to the failure of the regulatory agency, airline operators continually offer unsatisfactory services and treat passengers with outright disdain and disrespect.
The House presided over by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, then adopted the motion with a unanimous voice vote.
Also yesterday the House passed for second reading a bill seeking to prohibit public officials from accessing medicare treatment abroad at the expense of the government.
The bill, which seeks to amend the National Health Act 2014, is sponsored by Sergius Ogun.
Ogun, in his lead debate, said the bill sought to put an end to huge cost incurred by the government in the treatment of public officials abroad.
However, he said if any public official could on his or her own afford medical treatment abroad, nothing should stop the person from doing so.
He said: I want to make it clear that it does not bar anybody that has its money from getting treatment abroad. Nigeria is the only country where the president is flown out for six months, without us knowing the cost of the treatment.”
Ogun decried the poor state of health facilities in the country and urged the House to take action to reverse the ugly situation in the interest of the people, who voted them into office.
The lawmaker, while canvassing support for the bill, said if it was passed, it would strengthen existing public and private institutions in the country.
Besides, he said the passage of the bill would “facilitate the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs)in relation to health through the establishment of strong health institutions and vigilant regulatory authorities.”
Lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, lauded the bill, stating that it will go a long way in improving health care in the country.
Chairman, House Committee, Media and Public Affairs, Rep Abdulraszaq Namdas said “I support this bill. There is need for us to curtail medical tourism.”
However, the House spokesman noted that there is need to pay serious attention to issues in the health sector.
According to him, situations where doctors in the employment of public hospitals abandon their duties there, for their own private clinics must also be addressed.