The House passed the bill after adopting the report of a committee which considered the reports of public hearings on the National Health Bill, in tandem with the Senate which passed the NHB last February, according to the HSRC, a coalition of civil-society groups in support of the NHB.
“They have demonstrated their support in advancing and ensuring every Nigerian’s fundamental human right to health,” said Dr Muhammed Lecky, executive secretary of Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON), one of some 20 groups that comprise HSRC.
“The passage of the National Health Bill by the National Assembly would undoubtedly go down in history as the most significant legislative achievement,” Dr Lecky told a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja in efforts to salute the courage of lawmakers.
The NHB has come closer to presidential assent in the first half of this year alone, compared with recent years, as proponents and opponents still bicker over certain provisions contained in it.
HSRC called its passage “a major step forward”, but thanked “various professional interest groups who have remained focused on the desirability of the Health Bill, while working tirelessly to ensure that clarity and fairness is maintained in narrowing their respective professional interests for public good.”
Presidential assent will turn the bill into an act, but HSRC has said it would work with stakeholders to “advocate for accompanying regulations” to ensure smooth implementation.
The bill provides framework to regulate, develop and manage a health system along with standards for health services.
It spells out responsibility and eligibility for health services, the functions of health ministries at different levels, eligibility for exemption from paying for health services in public facilities.
HSRC has become a platform for advocating better health, and comprises groups as Save the Children, UNICEF, Federation of Women Lawyers, HERFON, Evidence for Action, women journalists, Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria, professional associations and regulatory councils of doctors and dentists, amongst others.