The speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said that COVID-19 has exposed Nigeria’s health institutions, which necessitated some interventions from the House.
He said that the National Assembly will continue to provide funds to strengthen the Nigerian health sector.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of a 3-day training for health workers in Plateau State held in Jos on Monday, the speaker said the Nigerian health sector needs a lot in terms of infrastructure and others.
According to him, since the inception of the 9th House, there have been a lot of unprecedented interventions in the health sector, including addressing issues related to strike action by health workers.
He said: “We’re all aware that in Nigeria, we have health problems: problem with our infrastructure, a problem with our health personnel and so many other things.
“But in the last couple of years, the covid pandemic exposed the underbelly of our health institutions.
“It was that covid experience, I believe, that triggered a lot of interventions that the House of Representatives and my office have made in the health sector.
“We have our Legislative agenda in the House of Representatives and health reform is a cardinal part of our Legislative Agenda. We have been doing all we can in terms of budgeting and other things. It was because of the deficit that we faced that we approved a lot of money to go into the health sector.
“It may not be enough, but we’re going to continue. We’re trying to tighten some of our laws. I make bold to say that we’ve been very supportive of the health workers.
“Never before has the House of Representatives involved itself with the health sector in Nigeria, including trying to resolve health issues and getting involved in the strike action between health workers and the government. There are a lot of those interventions.
“Health workers are very important. There’s no telling how many lives will be lost by just one health worker embarking on strike not to talk about a whole association. That’s why during our time in the 9th House, any time we sense the possibility of health workers downing their tools, we act quickly. I’ve been to your headquarters in Abuja to talk to your members, and I’m glad that they’ve been very cooperative.”
Accompanied by his wife, Mrs Salamatu Gbajabiamila, the speaker enjoined the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to join forces with the National Assembly and tighten health laws to enable some health workers to sit up.
In a remark at the event, the Governor of Plateau State, Barr. Simon Bako Lalong, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, said the training had been very engaging, revealing and educative for the participants.
While commending the speaker for setting the pace for strengthening healthcare workers, the governor said the training would help eliminate negligence and promote good medical practices.
“This will help in improving the health indices in the state and the country as a whole,” he said.
In a goodwill message, the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Yakson Sanda, thanked the speaker for organizing the training in Plateau State.
“We want to sincerely appreciate you for the good work you’ve been doing. We the people of Plateau appreciate you. We pray that God will continue to protect and bless you.”
Also, the president-elect of the World Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, said medical practioners have been clamouring for the political will to advance healthcare and thanked the speaker for his intervention.
“We are calling on others to emulate this kind of brilliant example. It’s through such things that we can advance health issues. It shows that Mr. Speaker understands the nexus between good health and ethical conducts.”
On his part, the president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Innocent Ujah, noted the speaker’s “noble and innovative approach to health issues.”
He called on the speaker to ensure the continuation of such interventions, noting that medical ethics is an important part of medical practice.