The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill which will provide a fine of N500 million on public officials who flouted the provisions of the ‘National Health Act 2014’ and embark on medical trips with public funds.
The bill, sponsored by Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), seeks to amend the ‘National Health Act 2014, Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No.145, Vol.101 (HB.1611)”.
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In his lead debate, the lawmaker said the existing law has not provided penalties for flouting its provisions, hence the proposed amendment to the law.
He said the main objective of the bill is to amend the Principal Act so as to make provision for sanctions against any public officer who violates the provisions of the Act, especially Section 46.
He said the section provides that: “Without prejudice to the right of any Nigerian to seek medical check-up, investigation or treatment anywhere within and outside Nigeria, no public officer of the Government of the Federation or any part thereof shall be sponsored for medical check-up, investigation or treatment abroad at public expense except in exceptional cases on the recommendation and referral by the medical board and which recommendation and referral shall be duly approved by the Minister or Commissioner of health of the State as the case may be.”
He added that the amendment is to discourage medical treatment abroad at the detriment of our indigenous health institutions.
The lawmaker added that the bill is to reinforce the need to revamp the poor state of the healthcare sector in Nigeria among other things.
He added: “It is no news that Nigeria’s healthcare system is in a deplorable state and needs urgent attention.
“There is paucity of infrastructure, dearth of medical personnel, poor standards and many other challenges that need to be addressed.
“The intent of this bill is to spur public officers to pay more attention to our healthcare sector and take drastic steps to develop and improve on the sector”.
Citing clause 2(2) of the Bill, he said it provides that, “(2) Any public officer of the Government of the Federation or any part thereof who violates the provision of sub-section (1) above shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) or to an imprisonment term of seven years, or both”.
The bill was debated and passed for second reading.