May 27, 2024

Reasons we declared state of emergency on health sector – Abbas explains


Tajudeen Abbas

…N250bn approved for upgrade of health infrastructure inadequate – Finance Minister

By Joseph Erunke, Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas on Monday disclosed that the 10th Assembly’s resolved to declare state of emergency on health in its inception to demonstrate its commitment towards tremendous improvement in the standard of living of Nigerians across the country.

Hon. Abbas stated this during the public hearing on the establishment of Teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centres and other health institutions, including the establishment of Federal Medical Centre, Ako-Nike, Enugu State; Federal Medical Centre, Fagge, Kano State and Federal Medical Centre, Ikole-Ekiti State.

The Speaker, who was represented by the Minority Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda underscored the importance of stakeholders’ inputs into the law making process.

He explained that the House relies on such inputs with a view to make law for the good governance of our citizens as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“The onerous responsibility bestowed on the House Committee on Health Institutions by both the House Standing Rules and the Constitution, is achievable when the caliber of its leadership and membership are taken into consideration.

“The present 10th House of Representatives at its inception in 2023, set out for itself a legislative agenda whose implementation will surely bring about a tremendous improvement in the living condition/standard of our citizenry.

“The importance of Health cannot be stressed and it is because of that the House of Representatives declared a State of Emergency in the Health Sector.

“Today’s hearing, no doubt is in line with the agenda and so also I expect the outcome. Distinguished stakeholders, I wish to urge you to freely express your views/opinions either for or against the subjects of this hearing in a manner that will bring about the sustenance of our collective will to be together as a Nation. Remember we have no other Nation to call ours.”

He expressed optimism that the Stakeholders’ inputs “will no doubt add to the quality of Legislation’s the present 10th Assembly will bequeath to our Citizenry at the end of its tenure.”

In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Hon. Amos Magaji observed that: “with our growing population, the need for reference hospitals closer to the people, particularly in rural and suburban areas, have grown critical for ensuring success of government initiatives to improve healthcare.”

Hon. Magaji reiterated the House resolve to ensure that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them of sufficient quality to be effective, without financial hardship, in line with World Health Organization’s which defined access to health as universal health coverage.

“Tertiary health institutions in Nigeria provide tertiary healthcare services to complement primary and secondary care in the national healthcare system. So far, the government’s role in developing and expanding hospital services in Nigeria has been commendable, with responsibility for one teaching hospital in each state of the federation.

“However, in order to develop and expand the country’s training institutions and ensure an equitable distribution of health manpower, the Federal Government must balance the inequality in the distribution of tertiary institutions across the country. This need cannot be overemphasized.

“The mass exodus of health workers and professionals to other countries, particularly the United Kingdom, presents a significant challenge to Nigeria’s healthcare sector. More recently, there has been an enormous migration of doctors, purses, pharmacists, and laboratory Scientists in search of ‘greener pastures’ in Other countries, leaving Nigeria’s health sector severely understaffed. To address this challenge, the Federal Government has declared a State of emergency in the health sector, following a call from the House of Representatives.

“The need to reposition the healthcare sector to meet numerous emerging Challenges is crucial to its improvement, To succeed in this era, a system that is Well invested on human resources and medical intelligence as the backbone of the health sector is required. The administrative appointment of capable persons based on merit in hospital management also has a role to play.”

He explained that the Committee during the oversight functions to healthcare institutions across the country since the inauguration, undeniably witnessed infrastructural deficiencies of health services, lack of equipment resulting largely from inadequate funding of health institutions by the government, and a total lack of maintenance culture for equipment provided.

Speaking on the a bill seeking to establish Federal Medical Centre, Ako-Nike, Enugu State, Hon. Paul Nnamchi disclosed that the Community of Ako-Nike has allocated 10 hectares of land for the FMC that will “provide for robust foundation for developing a state-of-the-art medical facility with ample space for future expansion.

“Additionally, the Community has existing infrastructure, including reliable electricity and pipe borne water which are essential for the operation of a healthcare facility. The presence of these utilities will significantly reduce the initial setup cost and ensure that the facility can begin operations swiftly.”

Also speaking on the intendment of a bill for the establishment of Federal Medical Centre in Ikole-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Akin Rotimi observed that Ikole-Ekiti is strategically located in Ekiti State and serves as the hub of numerous communities.

“Despite this importance, it’s underserved in terms of healthcare infrastructure. The proposed FMC in Ikole will bring several transformative benefits, not only to Ikole Ekiti but several other communities around,” the House Spokesman noted.

While acknowledging that there are several communities in need of health centers amidst daunting financial needs facing the country, he expressed optimism that the Federal Government in consultation with the Legislature will take necessary decision.

On her part, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Ali Pate disclosed that over N250 billion was approved in the 2024 financial year for infrastructure upgrade and equipment in the health sector.

He added that each of the Training Institutions in the health sector has been mandated to double its intake of the number of students that they have currently.

The Minister who was represented by Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Daju Kachallom observed that the policy behind the establishment of FMCs is to be where there’s no Federal Teaching Hospitals.

The Minister also disclosed that the Ministry is collaborating with State Governments in its quest to strengthen the General Hospitals and Specialist Hospitals with a view to strengthen the two-way referral system in the health sector.

In the same vein, Minister of Finance, Mr. Wale Edun who was represented by Mallam Musa Umaru observed that the proposed establishment of the 13 health institutions is coming at a time that the country is constraint in terms of revenue.

He maintained that the establishment of the Institutions are based on issues of funding and personnel.