Abuja — The Senate has explained why it prevailed on the executive arm of government to implement the provision of the National Health Act, 2014, which stipulates that a minimum of one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund be set aside for basic healthcare.
Its committee on health declared at a press conference yesterday that the activation of that clause made it possible for the sum of N57.15 billion to be voted for basic health.
Chairman, Senate Committee, Lanre Tejuoso, said the federal legislature has lived up to its promise by including basic health care provision package in the 2018 budget.
He said the implementation of the act is a game changer for primary health care in the country.
Although there was no provision for basic health care in the budget proposal submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari last year, it was accommodated in the 2018 budget by the National Assembly because of the increase in oil price benchmark from $45 to $51 per barrel.
Tejuoso also revealed that a toll free line would be opened for people to lay complaints about activities of primary health centres, adding that the funds would be distributed to the centres directly.
He said: "Every primary centre will have some money coming directly to the health centre and not going to the local government before they give it to them.
"So there is no reason for that primary health centre not to have basic drugs and not to have salaries to pay the nurses, even the strike will be a thing of the past".
He said that 50 per cent of the fund would be dedicated for disease control.
The National Health Act seeks to provide a framework for the regulation, development and management of a national health system and set standards for rendering health service in the country.
Some of the benefits include the provision of free basic health care services for children under the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with disabilities in the country.
Also, the law guarantees the universal acceptance of accident victims in both public and private health institutions, bans senior public officers' use of public funds for treatment abroad, especially for ailments that can be treated locally.
Speaking after the budget was passed on Wednesday, Senate President Bukola Saraki had pointed out that the move will not only transform the health care landscape in the country through better public funding of health but will also translate to improved access to basic health care service in the country.
According to him, it demonstrates the commitment and responsiveness of the 8th National Assembly to health care needs of Nigerians.
This, he said, will help to achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG 3 which talks about good health and well being by 2030.