Key legislations passed by 8th senate to shape Nigeria’s healthcare

In order to tackle the problems associated with the Nigerian health sector, which ranges from high mortality rate, maternal mortality, spread of malaria among others, the upper chamber of the National Assembly approved the following healthcare bills in 2018.

1 percent CRF for the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund:

The senate in May this year approved that one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) be set aside for the Basic Health Care.

The fund will ensure that every primary centre will have some money coming directly to the health centre and not going to the local government before they can get from them. 50 percent of the fund would be dedicated for disease control. This will help the country achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG 3 which talks about Good Health and well-being by 2030.

Hence, there will be no reason for that primary health centre not to have basic drugs and not to have salaries to pay its workers.

Although the implementation of the act was not effected in the 2018 budget submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, lawmakers however accommodated the fund through the increase in oil price benchmark from $45 to $51 per barrel.

Status: Awaiting presidential assent

National Council for Social Work Regulatory Bill:

The Bill establishes the National council of Social Work to regulate the practice of social work in Nigeria and facilitate the development of a profession concerned with helping reduce the incidence of abuse and neglect and supporting families to raise their children to their full potential.

Status: Operational

The Drug Control Bill:

Following several consultations with stakeholders develop a coherent legislative framework to address the control of drugs, reducing the demand for drugs as well as interventions for people who use drugs.

 The Drug Control Bill clarifies the mandate and strengthens the capacity of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and other relevant law enforcement and regulatory bodies to eradicate the illicit production, and trafficking of controlled substances. In addition it:

– Establishes a central mechanism to facilitate collaboration among law enforcement, regulatory and public health authorities in line with the National Drug Control Policy.

 – Criminalization of Illicit Distribution, Diversion and Dispensing of Controlled Narcotic Drugs without prescription or license.

– Temporarily Banning/ Restricting Access to Controlled Narcotic Drugs in the event of Public Health emergency.

– Referral of Drug Users with Drug Abuse problems for appropriate services.

 – Ensure that only the Controlled Narcotic Drugs and Precursor chemicals that are needed for Medical and Scientific Purposes based on National Estimates are Imported and/or produced in the Country.

– Restriction on Distribution and Dispensing of Controlled Narcotic Drugs.

Status: Operational

The National Child Protection and Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Bill 2018:

This bill will amongst other things:

 – Ensure that child sensitive social protection policies are implemented

– Address child poverty, vulnerability and risks.

 – Conduct investigations with respect to offences under the Child Rights Act.

Status: Operational

 The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill:

 The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill, was drafted to strengthen effective leadership by formulating developing and implementing national policies, strategies, programs and regulations relating to mental health.

It protects the rights of persons with mental and substance use disorders, provides a legal framework for the regulation of mental and substance abuse services and ensure quality, efficient mental health and substance abuse

The bill:

– Criminalizes victimization of people with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems.

– Treats people with drug abuse problems as people who need help not criminals.

– Improves access to evidence-based Treatment and Rehabilitation Services for People with Drug Abuse Problems.

– Increases access to effective psychosocial support and Mental Health services to prevent drug abuse

 – Regulation of Mental Health Service Providers

Status: Operational

In September 2000, Nigeria along with 188 other countries, adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration and committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Three of the MDGs are health-related: signees of the declaration committed to reducing their under-five and infant mortality ratio by two-thirds, reducing the ratio of maternal mortality by three-quarters, and not only stopping, but reversing the spread of AIDS, malaria and other major diseases.

Nigeria’s infant mortality rate of 78 per 1,000 live births is worse than Ghana, Kenya and South Africa with 49, 49 and 33 respectively, and also worse than the sub-Saharan average of 64. Only 39 percent of Nigerian births are attended by skilled health workers versus 47 percent in Angola, 68 percent in Ghana, 44 percent in Kenya and 91 percent in South Africa.  The sub-Saharan Africa average is 46 percent.

Nigeria’s public health care system has to provide for a population of some 198m, growing at a rate of around 3 percent per year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics

The federal government is responsible for policy development, the regulation of the health care sector and the provision of tertiary care, which consists of specialised consultative treatments. State governments are responsible for providing secondary health care, and local government areas (LGAs) are tasked with supplying primary health care.

According to the Ministry of Health, federal funds represent 12 percent of the country’s total health care expenditure, with state governments providing a further 8 percent, LGAs and development partners contributing 4 percent each, and private companies providing 3 percent, with the rest covered by donors. This means that as much as 69 percent of health care expenditure is out-of-pocket for households.

As of 2014 there were around 30,000 primary health facilities, and almost 4000 secondary health facilities. Since 2009 the number of hospital beds in Nigeria has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7 percent, but there were only 134,000 in 2014 – equivalent to less than one bed per 1000 inhabitants. This is well below the WHO’s recommendation of five beds per 1000 inhabitants.

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