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National Health Act showing good strides @One Year

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By Bilkisu Ado Zango

The National Health Act (NHAct) 2014 if effectively implemented is cumulatively capable of saving 3,131,510 lives of mothers, newborns and Under-5s by 2022, in addition to improving the health status of Nigerians in general hence, the one singular instrument required to unlock the economy and the greatest transformation for the Health Sector in Nigeria.

This was a statement made by the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Health Mr L.N. Awute mni in a press statement title “One Year Anniversary of the National Health Act 2014” on the 31st of October 2015.

He said the NHAct 2014 has established the Nigerian National Health System, specifying the roles and responsibilities of all the key players as well as strengthened the operations and operators of the Health System for greater and improved health outcomes.

The Permanent Secretary acknowledge efforts of all stakeholders who have worked assiduously with us to ensure the passage of the NHAct-2014  including members of the various sessions of the National Assembly since 2004, development partners, government and non-government agencies and the civil society organization

Mr Awute indicated that prior to this historic moment, stakeholders in Nigeria and in Diaspora had lamented the absence of any legislation guiding the operations of the Nigerian National Health System stressing that it came at a significant time when the world is negotiating its future post-2015 adding that the country is now more empowered to become global players in health.

The statement highlighted key features of the NHAct 2014 which are as follows:

  1. The Act, for the first time, provides clarity on what constitutes the National Health System which is the Federal Ministry of Health, Ministries of Health in the 36 States and their equivalent in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), parastatals under the Federal and State Ministries of Health, local government health authorities, ward and village health committees, as well as private, traditional and alternative health care providers.
  2. The Act provides for the establishment of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), which is a demonstration of the importance accorded to assuring equity and access to health care services to all categories of people, especially the poor and most in need.
  3. Quality of healthcare has also been significantly addressed with the establishment of the “Certificate of Standards” and the proper “Classification of Health Establishments and Technologies” regimes.
  4. The Act has provides for the further strengthening of referral care, coordination of the practice of healthcare service providers as well as a mandate for the periodic evaluation of the services provided in all health establishments including human resources
  5. The Act strengthens our National Health Information and the National Health Research Systems. Collectively these will encourage the institutionalization of evidence based decision making while promoting development through health research.
  6. The NHAct addresses critical issues of availability, distribution, capacity development, and management of Human Resources for Health in Nigeria.
  7. It has also made provisions to ensure availability of quality blood for transfusion purposes in accredited health facilities, protections of the rights to self-determination of the individual on the use of his/her blood or tissue and allowable areas for which, and places at which such blood, tissue or other related products can be used among others.
  8. The act provides for sanctions against contraventions of the provisions of the NHAct including those related to use of blood, tissue, and gametes have been provided for to guard against abuse and exploitation.

However, the statement explained that one of the key challenges affecting progress in the country is the poor implementation of approved policies, cognizant of this reality, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) had since put in place a structure to ensure the operationalization  of the NHAct which comprises a Steering Committee, a Technical Review Committee and a Technical Working Group with membership drawn from the top management of the FMOH, its agencies, development partner agencies, non-governmental, and civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholder communities with a record of tremendous success

It is worth noting that reforms such as the NHAct are best implemented within coherent policy frameworks for better coordination in a sustainable manner while aligning Nigeria’s efforts to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Health Related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has lead to reviewing 2004 National Health Policy, development of the 2016-2020 National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP),the National Health Financing Policy (NHFP) and Implementation Strategy.

According to the statement, what the Act has done is to empower every Nigerian to take COMPLETE charge of their health and also provide them with protection and access to health care even in emergency situations. THE ACT GUARANTEES THE RIGHT OF THE PATIENT AT ALL TIMES.

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