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Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2014

At last, Senate passes National Health Bill

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Nigerian-Senate-1By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

After several years of moving about in the National Assembly, the Senate yesterday passed for third reading, the National Health Bill, which seeks to regulate the management and development of the national health system, in addition to establishing a counterpart funding for federal, state and local governments.

In a related development, Senate President, David Mark, yesterday urged the Senate committees on Finance and Petroleum Upstream, to hasten the probe of the Malabu oil transaction, in addition to the pending legislative actions on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The Bill titled ‘National Health Bill 2014’, was passed in the sixth Senate, but failed to secure the presidential assent to enable it become a law due to some controversial sections in it.

To this end, the bill was reworked by the Senate Committee on Health, during which it was subjected to rigorous debate in the Senate, including public hearing, which was held recently in the Senate.

The bill, if signed into law, will set aside, one per cent of the National Budget, which will serve as a counterpart funds, to which both the State and Local government could contribute and access certain amount of money to develop their primary healthcare system at the community levels.

Speaking after the Bill was passed for third reading, the Senate President, David Mark, commended the lawmakers and the committee members for putting in enormous work into the Bill, which is why it has passed through the third reading.

Briefing the Press on the main trust of the legislation shortly after its passage, Senator Okowa, explained that the Bill sought to provide for the management and development of national health system by effectively regulating the health sector.

He also said the Bill aims at regulating organ transplant as well as provide healthcare services for Nigerians of all classes, including men, women, youth, aged and the disabled citizens of the country.

On the Malabu oil deal and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been pending in the Senate, the Senate President, David Mark, directed the Senate Committees on Finance and Petroleum Upstream to expedite probe action and legislative activities concerning the two issues.

Before now, the Senate had mandated the two standing committees to investigate the alleged sale of an oil block, OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited at $1.092billion (about N178.812billion) by the Federal Government.

Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi informed the Senate that the Italian and Netherlands governments and the EU parliaments are about concluding public investigations that would be made public very soon on the issue.

He regretted that Nigeria parliament, which is a major player in the issue are yet to do any thing meaningful since the past one year the issue was brought before the National Assembly.




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