A civil society organisation, Health Sector Reform Coalition, has commended the signing into law of the National Health Bill, warning that henceforth “there should be no more rejection of accident and emergency victims by both public and private hospitals; no excuse for failure of health services for Nigerians.”

The new health law, it also said, “Provides for severe punishment and imprisonment for removal of human organs and prohibits reproductive and therapeutic cloning of human kind.”

The HSRC also hailed the National Assembly for the quick passage of the bill, saying the development showed that members of the legislature were truly representing the people who elected them.
The group said President Goodluck Jonathan, by the Act, had taken “a giant, international best-practice step towards Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians, assuring and guaranteeing Nigerians’ fundamental human right to health.”

The Executive Secretary of HSRC, Dr. Muhammed Lecky, at a press briefing in Abuja stated that the signing of the National Health Bill into law was an undeniable legacy for the Jonathan presidency.

“Now that we have the Healthcare Act, we expect that health services for Nigerians would be transformed; there should be no excuse for failure as the new health law provides funding from the Federal Government (with counterpart funding from state and LGs) for guaranteed basic minimum healthcare for all. Children below the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities would receive free health care,” he said.

Lecky explained that the law required universal acceptance of accident and emergency cases by health facilities, both public and private.

“The new health law empowers the Minister of Health to promptly resolve, within a forthnight, any industrial action in the health sector, which is one of the persistent challenges confronting healthcare development in Nigeria”, he explained.

Lecky added, “As a CSO platform, we accept that the journey to this point has been tortuous which has turned out to be well worth it. We also recognise that the Health Act remains a framework for which we need to quickly reorganise, reenergise and refocus to take on the undoubtedly arduous task ahead of developing appropriate policy guidance and mechanisms to make the Health Act work.

“We in the Health Sector Reform Coalition as the watchdog of the national health system, pledge our commitment to work with constituted government authorities at federal, state and local levels and with other stakeholders in assuring space for meaningful engagements at national, state and local levels in ensuring the people’s ownership and for the full operationalisation, implementation and accountability on the National Health Law.”