Reps To Regulate Foreign Medical Treatment By Public Officials

Reps To Regulate Foreign Medical Treatment By Public Officials
  • PublishedFebruary 15, 2018

Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday expressed anguish over the sudden decline in medical facilities and services in the country, forcing many Nigerians to seek medical solutions outside the country.

They said part of the way out is to moderate movement by public officers to foreign countries for medical treatment.

Lawmakers said the move, though “draconian” in outlook, would push the same officials to invest heavily in the procurement of modern health care facilities here in Nigeria rather than spending such extravagant and ridiculous amount of money seeking help and solutions from experts abroad.

They spoke in Abuja as “A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Health Act, 2014 to Regulate International Trips for Medical Treatment by Public Officers, to Strengthen the Health Institutions for Efficient Service Delivery; and for Related Matters” passed second reading on the floor of the House.

The bill was sponsored by a Peoples Democratic Party member from Edo State, Mr. Sergious Ose-Ogun.

Ose-Ogun recalled that on a daily basis, Nigerians died of common ailments because basic services were either unavailable or they were not adequately funded.

He noted that for ailments requiring comprehensive diagnosis and treatment, often times,  hospitals and health personnel in Nigeria were not equipped to meet the needs of patients.

Ose-Ogun argued that the absence of such services, particularly in public health institutions, had resulted in the yearly journey of Nigerians to foreign countries in search of medical treatment.

He added, “Nigeria is the only country in the world where a President goes out and spends six months on medical vacation and we don’t even know the cost.

“Nigeria is a country where a former Vice-President would die abroad seeking care for ailment that he could have easily accessed at home.”

He called for major reforms in the health sector, including proper planning and adequate budgetary allocations.

An All Progressives Congress member from Katsina State, Mr. Ahmed Kaita, said it was disheartening that Nigeria did not even qualify to be a medical tourism destination for citizens of neighbouring African countries.

Kaita stated that with Nigeria’s vast resources, it could have conveniently invested in health facilities and earned revenues by offering services to Nigerians and fellow Africans.

“We wasted all the billions of dollars from oil on frivolities; much more was frittered away through corruption. Today, we are still lamenting over something we could easily have done many years ago,” he added.

A lawmaker from Plateau State, Mr. Edward Pwajok (SAN), said it was high time the Federal Government embarked on major health sector reforms.

“The state of our medical facilities is pathetic. There is nothing to write home about.

“Today, we don’t even have cancer screening machines,” he said.

But, two members, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje and Mrs. Joan Mrakpor, advised the House to define regulation clearly to avoid misinterpretation.

Both lawmakers said regulation should mean to the extent that public funds would be spent on the officer seeking medical treatment.

They noted that if public officers could afford the cost from their personal savings, it would be an infringement on their fundamental human rights to deny them treatment in foreign countries just because they occupied public offices.

“Can we actually regulate someone spending their money on their own health?”

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