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Reps Pass Bill To Make Healthcare Free To Children For 2nd Reading

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The House of Representatives has passed for second reading a bill to make healthcare delivery for Nigerian children free and compulsory.

The bill, sponsored by Bello Kaoje (APC, Kebbi), was passed during the plenary on Wednesday.

Presenting the bill, Kaoje said the bill was read the first time in July.

He said that the proposed bill was occasioned by the fact that children’s health is different from that of adults because they are exposed to so many risks.

He said the bill is to ensure that healthcare services for children are given freely to Nigerian children.

He said the services to be given will cover diagnosis, treatment and others in hospitals as well as referral cases in other healthcare service centres in the country.

However, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), argued that already the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) are already providing the same services for pregnant women and children in all healthcare centres in communities.

He added that funds are being budgeted annually for the purpose of healthcare delivery for pregnant women and children which he said was embedded in the Healthcare Act.

Similarly, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), said the spirit with which the bill was brought was good but what the Minority leader said was important.

He said the intention of the bill was free healthcare delivery to children in the country.

He, however, added that there is a need for a more in-depth explanation of the proposed bill vis a vis the operations of the primary healthcare management agency.

Solomon Maren (PDP, Plateau), who also went with the observations made by the Deputy Minority Leader, said as members of parliament, they have a duty to enact laws that will be implementable.

He, therefore, requested that the bill be stepped down for more in-depth study and contributions before passing the bill.

However, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said although concerns were raised as regards funding, the House should not wait to pass the bill.

He argued that the passage of the law will be the precursor to funding so the law should come first.

He noted that the funding may not be in the present budget but may be effected in the next budget after the law is passed.

The Speaker put the bill through a voice vote and was passed and referred to the House committee on healthcare services.

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