The public hearing of the National Health Bill on the proposed law after it scaled through the second reading at the Upper Chamber, was on Monday, February 11, 2013. While medical doctors under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) are calling for the speedy passage of the Bill, pharmacists under the auspices of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Catholic Church are opposed to its passage.
The pharmacists want the amendment of the NHB, given what they called the overwhelming public outcry on some provisions of the current Bill, which fundamentally distorts constitutional provisions and expectations.
The CSOs are opposed to some provisions of the Bill, which they said encourage abortion, cloning and give the Health Minister absolute powers over human embryos and other matters.
The NMA 4 days ago at a press briefing in Lagos called on all Nigerians to rise up in unison to say no to all those working against the accelerated passage of the Bill on account of self preservation or nebulous and narrow interests.
The NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, said: “The NHB is a dream whose time has surely come; it is a pregnancy that must not be allowed to suffer a second abortion. The NMA therefore calls on both chambers of the National Assembly to give the NHB accelerated hearing.”
He said the NHB stood out as a veritable tool for positively transforming Nigeria’s struggling health system, especially as it provides a framework and strategies for the effective planning, financing, governance, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of healthcare services in Nigeria.
But PSN President, Olumide Akintayo, told The Guardian Sunday: “The PSN respectfully solicits that the National Assembly amends the provisions of Section 1(1), Section 6(2)(f), (g) and (h), Section 9(2) (a) and Section 13 to make room for a statute that protects the interest of all stakeholders in healthcare and ultimately serves the public interest. In similar spirit, we respectfully submit that Sections 48 – 59 of the Bill be deleted.
“The Federal Ministry of Health must be compelled to exercise its supervisory functions over agencies of the Federal Government under it especially National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and National Health Insurance Scheme to ensure they comply fully with all statutory provisions that regulate and control their endeavours with a view to ensuring maximum output of the various intendments of the Health Bill.”
The CSOs called for the quashing of sections 17(1), 31(5), 32, 43(c) (d) (e) (f), 46(3), 50, 51(1) (2) (3) (4), 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57 and 58 from the National Health Bill 2012; new National Health Bill that is anchored in tackling the real primary health challenges of the Nigerians; and an open public debate or discussion on the new National Health Bill 2012.
The coalition in statement said they are shocked to inform the public that the National Health Bill 2012, which has gone through the second reading in the Senate, and which public hearing has been slated for today, was essentially a replication of the 2008 National Health Bill which was rejected by the Nigerian public culminating in President Jonathan refusing to assent to it.
The coalition include: Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), Association of Muslim Scientists, Project for Human Development (PHD), Global Pro-life Alliance (GPA) Doctors Initiatives, Happy Home Foundation, Association of Concerned Mothers, Nigerian Life League, Islamic Education Trust, Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria, Abuja Muslim Forum, Blissful Life for Youth Empowerment, Nigerian Association for Women Advancement, Catholic Lawyers Association, Sympathy Worldwide Organization, Life Choice International Initiative, Good Parenting and Youth Empowerment Initiative.