By Christiana Ekpa
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire on Tuesday kicked against five bills currently before the House of Representatives, seeking to establish new institutions in the health sector.
Ehanire who spoke at a public hearing on five bills and 12 motions organised by the House Committee on Healthcare Services said the establishment of the proposed institutions will amount to duplication of functions with existing ones and add to the cost of governance.
Zainab Shariff who represented the Minister said, the bill for an act to establish the public health practitioners council of Nigeria is a duplication of efforts and in conflict with the respective acts establishing the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Primary Healthcare Development Agency as well as Africa Institute of Public Health Practitioners.
“These are regulatory bodies under the Ministry that are already performing the stated functions in this proposed bill. The Federal Government is already working to harmonise the agencies which have similar functions,” Shariff said.
“This bill will further add to the cost of governance through the creation and proliferation of councils, boards or agencies whose functions have already been taken care of by the provisions of the acts of the aforementioned. It is the Ministry’s considered view that the bill is not necessary and should be stepped down.
On the bill for an act to establish a minimum standard for healthcare facilities, she said the Federal Ministry of Health has contributed a lot to ensuring establishment of the minimum standard for healthcare facilities through various activities.
“The Federal Ministry of Health in 2017 inaugurated the first National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee.
The Committee’s functions include; advise the Minister on matters affecting the establishment of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, establish the minimum standard for tertiary health institutions in Nigeria, make relevant investigations and recommendations to the Federal and State Government on Tertiary healthcare services in the national interest.
“This bill is a duplication of efforts and runs contrary to the existence of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and this Committee that was set up. Furthermore, health being on the concurrent list, the states should be left to handle the secondary healthcare standard. The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency is already supporting the States on the standards. If this bill becomes law then the Committee that is set up by the National Health Act will become useless,” she said.