NASS pledges support to indigent Nigerians

You are currently viewing NASS pledges support to indigent Nigerians
National Hospital Abuja


Hon. Amos Magaji


The House of Representatives Committee on Health Institutions has pledged the support of the 10th National Assembly (NASS) in its effort at reshaping healthcare delivery in Nigeria. The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Amos Magaji, made the pledge during a recent oversight function by members of the committee to the National Hospital, Abuja. Mr Magaji, who decried the state of healthcare delivery in the country, said that the healthcare system was in need of intervention by critical stakeholders in the sector.
He said: “So the health care system needs urgent intervention, some were done during COVID which exposed the Nigeria healthcare system. Before COVID, many hospitals didn’t even have an oxygen plant. So we are gradually growing, though we are not where we want to be. We will do everything to support equipping our hospitals. Whether through Public-Private Partnerships arrangements or procurement or the ones we will get through intervention because even the budget for health is poor.”
He also said that the legislature would ensure that human resources for health were looked into. According to him, long and short-term plans would be made to curb the challenging issues by making the process of enrollment into medical school easy. “We are going to legislate, engage to see things that will make the practice of medicine in Nigeria attractive, competitive and also good so that others from different countries will come to practice medicine in Nigeria.”
On medical tourism, Magaji said that everything must be done to reverse the trend. “We must get people to start coming from different parts of the world and reduce the number of Nigerians going there. Let it be that Nigerians go to seek medical intervention abroad by choice and we will be glad to have our hospitals functional and have our systems working.”
Mr Magaji, who was displeased with the financial state of the hospital regarding the internally generated Revenue it recorded in 2022, said that the hospital should be able to run on its own. He added: “The running cost of this hospital is in billions, reasonably why should one put N10 billion to N13 billion and at the end what you are generating is not up to N2 billion? I know that the hospitals are set up to provide services but it is not actually free. I am happy that the Chief Medical Director has also looked at the areas of leakages and also begun to block those areas.”
He urged the hospital to get fully digitalized and get their system automated as it was the way to go, to deliver good service.
Mr Magaji also said that to address the issue of patient’s inability to pay for services rendered, Nigerians should have health insurance.
On his part, Adedayo Adesola, said that legislation could help with ensuring that the hospital’s cancer care and trauma units were funded. “If we sit down together and we brainstorm, we can find a way where the Federal Government pays the bulk of those two items. I am also of the opinion that people should not pay import duty for drugs like cancer, either for old or young people. Even people who have kidney transplants, drug rejection, and anti-drug rejection medication should also be tax-free.”
According to him, 20 per cent of Nigerians have problems with their kidney translating to about 20 million people. “That is a huge number. So if that affects a large number of our people we should find a way to support them. So I think we just need to work together to be able to bring in legislation that will help you and then we must be able to find a way to detect those who cannot actually pay. There are some people that are not able to pay and I’m of the opinion that it is the duty of all of us to support the poor and the vulnerable, particularly when it relates to health.”


The Chief Medical Director, Prof. Raji Mahmud, while defending the hospital’s inability to generate the expected funds, said that at the trauma centre, patients were treated without any initial deposits for the first 24 to 48 hours and the amount spent on one individual runs into millions. “When they are asked to go to the ward to pay what they owe, they either say they don’t have it or some even die so we lose money every day. Also, cancer care gulps millions of naira but we have never sent anyone away so you realize that whatever we generate from IGR we spend on some other drain pipes like the trauma centre and cancer care, so it is really hurting us.”
Mr Mahmud, however, said that it was absolutely necessary to increase the hospital’s IGR, adding that it had in the last few months blocked some leakages. He added that about 98 per cent of the medical records had been recovered electronically. “We are also thinking out of the box. There are some of these facilities that eventually once we are able to stabilize them we may commercialize some aspects for those who can afford it. This is so that we open a new window for them to access but we will not close down that other window for Nigerians who are not so rich and also those who are on National Health Insurance so that it will also be open to everyone.”
In a similar development, President Bola Tinubu is being asked to implement a state of emergency in the health sector. The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is requesting the President to allocate at least 15 per cent of the 2024 annual budget to the health sector. The President of NARD, Dr Dele Abdullahi, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Nigeria while decrying the exclusion of the health sector from the 2023 supplementary budget.
This was even as the Joint Health Sector Unions said the health sector was too important to be neglected in the supplementary budget. NARD and JOHESU said it was unfortunate that the health sector was excluded from the supplementary budget despite its poor state.
The National Assembly on Monday, 30 October 2023 approved a N2.18 trillion supplementary budget for the 2023 fiscal year. The Federal Government said the supplementary budget was to fund urgent issues, including defence and security as well as the provision of welfare packages for workers and poor Nigerians to cushion the biting effects of petrol subsidy removal.
While decrying the exclusion of the health sector from the supplementary budget, the NARD president said: “It is sad and unfortunate that the health sector was not included in the supplementary budget. The health sector is in shambles and a lot of things need to be done about the sector but it was considered in the budget. There are other things that need to be addressed in the health sector. I hope the government will make the 2024 budget for the health sector very reasonable because since 2001 when the Abuja Declaration was made, Nigeria has never met that target. I hope the government will allocate at least 15 per cent of the 2024 budget to the health sector. The Abuja Declaration commitment requires the nation to ensure that 15 per cent of its annual budgetary allocation goes to health.”
Also, the Acting Chairman of JOHESU, Dr Obinna Ogbonna, said that since health is wealth, the health sector should not have been neglected in the supplementary budget. “I looked through the budget and I didn’t see anything that has to do with health. Meanwhile, there are issues like the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, and the Consolidated Health Salary Structure, and workers’ welfare to deal with. I want to assume it’s an oversight that the health sector was not included and we will take it up with them so that they can see the need to include the health sector in the budget.”

Leave a Reply