Health Workers Kick against National Health Act 2014 Amendment

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Health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) have kicked against calls for amendment and review of the National Health Act 2014 (NHACT 2014).

National Chairman of the umbrella body of health workers in the country, Comrade Bio Joy Josiah, said the National Health Act 2014 was designed to achieve quality health practices and universal healthcare but had not impacted on the country’s healthcare delivery because of the inability of the Federal Ministry of Health to develop the desired implementation and enforcement mode.

He said the move for the amendment of the National Health Act 2014 being championed by the Health Reforms Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON), Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC) and Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (LNU) was uncalled for as it was ‘irrational to amend an obviously untested and poorly implemented Act of Parliament.’

“The National Health Act 2014 was structured and designed to be an impactful document which would have achieved all known tenets of good healthcare practices and universal healthcare was intentionally jeopardised from inception by the ineptitude of the Federal Ministry of Health which did not have a sound implementation and enforcement mode,” he said.

According to him, some of the specific areas of the NHAct 2014 which have not been either implemented at all or implemented with gross deficiency, include refusal to establish the National Health system as provided in sections 1 (1) and (2) as well as sabotaging the quality of the output of the National Council on health through a haphazard composition of its Technical Committee set up under section 6 of the enabling Act.

He also listed negation of the establishment of the national Tertiary Institutions Standards Committee, defective haphazard recourse for establishment of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the establishment of strategic Committees listed in the Act including National Health Research Ethics Committee, National Health Management Information System.

“The NHAct 2014 provides for the establishment of a National health system which is supposed to define and provide a framework for standards and regulation of health services. Ordinarily, the National Health System should include the FMoH, State Ministries of Health, Parastatals of the Health Ministry at State and Federal levels, LGAs health authorities as well as orthodox, traditional and alternative healthcare providers.

“Unfortunately, this National Health System was never formally constituted five years after, so some of the intended value added benefits including promoting a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility among all providers of health services in the Federation was lost completely.

“This agitation for the amendment must be stopped by all men of goodwill in the interest of our ailing economy and specifically to align our health priorities with global realities and expectations.”

The Chairman further said “It is pertinent to say that a country without a formalised National Health system cannot and will never advance modern tenets in Healthcare delivery. This is a major reason there are no derivable benefits from the implementation mode of NH-2014 Act.

“A technical committee which provided for an expanded base of informed technocrats both within and outside the bureaucracy of government was structured to be in existence by virtue of section 6 of the Health Act. This included representation of all registered Professional Associations in the health sector, but FMoH has never complied with a lawful composition of the Technical Committee of the Council on Health as all the representatives of registered Professional Associations are never invited to the Technical Committee sessions.

“The National Council on Health therefore remains an unproductive template of the old order of bureaucrats at State and Federal levels.

He disclosed that the National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee (NTHISC) which was designed to regulate and standardise the operations of the Federal and State Health Institutions has not been allowed to take-off since the inception of the NH-2014 Act over five years ago.

According to him, this had resulted in a lack of uniform benchmark and standards, insisting “We must have the same regulators for all our Federal Health Institutions if peak level will be attained in public interest.”

He further noted that a “deliberate refusal of the Federal Government to adopt the payment of 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund into the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) as provided in section 11 of the Act is perhaps the saddest chapter in the tales of woes of the under-utilised NH-2014 Act.’ The BHCPF, he explained, should ideally be the reservoir for donors and other related funds.

“Strategically, the layout of disbursements from BHCPF which provides 50% for Managed Care and Health Insurance, 30% for Primary care services, 15% for Essential drugs and vaccines at Primary care level and 5% for staff training ought to be the panacea for Universal Health Coverage if the entire Health plan mapped out in NH-2014 Act was put to test and ultimately implemented.

Comrade Josiah called on Nigerians and other stakeholders to gear up to fight the needed battle to sustain the originality of NH-2014 Act which is a good law in the best interest of the country, declaring that NH-2014 Act does not need any form of amendment.