By Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to provide equipment for kidney dialysis centres at subsidised rates in all federal government health facilities in the country.
It also mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with relevant stakeholders with a view to ensuring that provisions are made in the supplementary budget for the establishment of fully equipped kidney dialysis centres across the country.
The decision of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved at plenary Tuesday by Hon. Zannah Usman.
He said reports has it that the disease affects 20 per cent of Nigerians and can be linked to the rising cases of high blood pressure among the populace, high cost of treatment and absence of functional dialysis machines at various kidney treatment centres which are hampering the management of the disease.
The lawmaker noted that kidney disease is usually caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders, stressing that as an emerging global public health problem, if left untreated, could result to renal disease which would necessitate dialysis or kidney transplant.
Usman expressed concern that the disease has contributed to the nation’s rising mortality rate, as patients are unable to either afford the cost of treatment or access to the facilities which are fraught with enormous challenges such as inadequate funding, shortage of specialists, poor health promotion strategies and obsolete equipment.
He also expressed worry that most communities do not have a primary health centre, thus making it difficult to identify a large pool of people with kidney disease and those at risk of developing the disease and where the facility exists, there may not be doctors and other health professionals to effectively man the centre.
The lawmaker also expressed worry that in the northern part of the country, the major cause of death among kidney disease patients is the cost of consumables, which is making dialysis unaffordable and discouraging patients from seeking timely intervention.
The House therefore urged “the federal government to establish more fully equipped kidney dialysis centres in health facilities across the nation, employ qualified personnel to manage the centres and subsidise treatments for kidney disease patients in order to encourage them to seek early intervention, thus saving lives”.
Meanwhile, following the cholera outbreak in over 10 communities in Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro federal constituency, the House has called on the Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to immediately deploy health workers in the communities to address the outbreak and control further spread.
The decision of the House followed the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance moved at plenary Tuesday by Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante.
He said that the affected communities included: Ngo, Ayarna Ekede, Oyoroto, Ilotomobi, Samanga, Unyeada, Afradighi and Ataba, with 65 cases and 11 deaths recorded so far, adding that the epidemic is spreading to other villages and neighbouring communities.
He said the Ministry of Health reported 37,289 cases and 1,434 deaths between January and October 2010, while a total of 22,797 cases of cholera with 728 deaths and case-fatality rate of 3.2 per cent were recorded in 2011.
The lawmaker noted that outbreaks were also recorded in 2018 with the NCDC reporting 42,466 suspected cases including 830 deaths with a case fatality rate of 1.95 per cent from 20 out of 36 states from the beginning of 2018 to October 2018.
He stressed that cholera as an acute diarrheal disease can kill within hours if untreated, noting that the disease is found and spread in places where water supplies aren’t treated properly and sanitation or toilet systems are poor.
Abiante expressed concern that if not checked, it could result in another fatal outbreak leading to loss of lives and hardships in the communities and persons living in these communities.
The House therefore urged the Ministry of Water Resources to urgently put machinery in motion to provide clean and potable water in the affected communities.
Similarly, the House has decried the massive brain drain in the health sector in recent years, saying that many medical doctors and other health professionals have been leaving Nigeria for other countries in search of better living conditions.
To this end, it mandated its Committees on Healthcare Services and Health Institutions to investigate the problem of brain drain in the health sector and make recommendations on measures to curtail the trend.
The House resolution followed the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo, who lamented that the migration of health professionals has adverse effects on the healthcare system of the nation as it costs it much more than the benefits it derives from remittances by those diaspora professionals.
He noted that in 2019, only 3.6 per cent of the annual budget of N8.8 million was allocated to the health sector.
He expressed concern that medical doctors and other health professionals are frustrated as lack of investments in the health sector, paucity of equipment and frequent strikes prevent them from doing their job to the best of their abilities.