Lagos- The Lagos State Chapter of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Thursday commended President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the National Health Bill into law.
Dr Tope Ojo, the state Chairman of NMA, gave the commendation in an interview with the News of Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Dr Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, had on Tuesday confirmed to newsmen the signing of the bill by the president.
NAN reports that the road to getting the presidential assent to the bill, which started about 10 years ago, was rough as it was tossed around the corridors of the National Assembly.
Ojo said: “it is a good development and we are waiting to see what will come out from it.
“I want to recall that a 24-point demand was made by the NMA during its general strike around the middle of the year.
“One of the 24-point demands was actually that of putting pressure on the Federal Government to make good laws, especially as it concerns the health sector.
“We need a health reform and healthcare system that is functional and accessible to everybody regardless of social class, geographical location, gender and others.
“If you look at the bill in its entirety, it may not cover everything, but, we are talking of things that will make healthcare accessible and affordable for all Nigerians.”
Ojo said that there should be provisions for the protection, promotion and fulfillment of the rights of Nigerians to have access to healthcare.
“An average Nigerian needs to be fed, needs to have rights to education, shelter and basic means of livelihood.
“So, putting that into perspective, we are talking of affordable healthcare, such as the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) targeted to be wholesome and for everybody.
“We expect that there should be minimum package of basic healthcare services and provision of free medical care for children under five years of age, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities.
“ We also expect that the issue of medical tourism will be tackled, especially by those in the political class and public office holders.
“The general attitude of our political class is that they prefer to source for healthcare abroad,” he said.
Ojo said that there was expectation of a positive reformation of the healthcare sector as well as modalities that would ensure effective regulations, standardisations, monitoring and evaluation of performances.
He said that the new law should take care of incessant crises in the health sector, set standards and ensure that the sector and practice is regulated and improved. (NAN)