The new head of the Senate committee on health, Ifeanyi Okowa, says President Goodluck Jonathan must return the national health bill to parliament if the country is to meet targets set in its health development policy.
“If we intend to fast-track universal health coverage, it is expedient that we urge the federal government to re-present the National Health Bill for passage into law,” said Senator Okowa.
The NHB has stalled over controversies between sets of healthcare professionals–which pitched doctors against other healthcare workers.
Without a presidential assent, lawmakers returned to the federal ministry of health for amendment.
Analysts say the bill will provide more funding for health and finetune regulations regarding appropriation and spending.
Former head of the committee, Senator Gyang Dantong, died early this month following an attack in Riyom on a funeral underway for people killed in an earlier attack.
Okowa’s comments came at the 55th meeting of the National Council on Health, holding for the second consecutive year in Abuja.
The NCH–Nigeria’s highest policy making body for health–meets this year on twin agendas of universal health coverage and achieving results.
It is also considering progress on resolutions it reached at its 54th meeting last year.
In remarks, Okowa spoke of mixed progress in dealing with malaria, in contraception use and in reducing the number of children and women dying yearly.
“Even though more mothers and children are dying, avoidable deaths are still unacceptably common. Desperate the higher reach out through immunisation, routine immunisation coverage is still low in some geographical areas,” he said.
Health authorities target that full immunisation will cover at least 95% of children aged between one and two years by 2015–up from a baseline of 45%.
He added that more work was required in “innovative governance reforms, coordination and financing.”