The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday assured on the 9th Assembly’s resolve to prioritize the health sector with a view to ensuring better service delivery for Nigerians.
Hon. Gbajabiamila who gave the assurance during an interactive session with a delegation of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) led by its president, Prof. Innocent Ujah, pledged the House resolve to look at the issue of the outstanding allowances of the Nigerian health workers.
Also at the meeting, the Speaker who frowned at the insinuations in some quarters that the health sector has the least budget of about N43 billion, argued that the sector gets over N1 trillion budgetary allocation.
He also reiterated the House resolves towards fast-tracking the legislative process on a bill to repeal and re-enact the Nigeria Medical and Dental Council Act.
“Healthcare is one of the major areas of focus of the 9th House Legislative Agenda. We will continue to stand with you and anything that will help our country move forward. You can’t talk about nation-building without getting your healthcare delivery right.
“Just be rest assured that you have in this institution a friend. We will work with you. I must commend you that under the difficult terrain you work in, you’re still able to do your job,” he said.
The Speaker also supported the idea of a bank for the health sector as suggested by the NMA President, saying the House would look into it.
“We’ll like to explore the idea of a health bank further. We’ll work with our doctors in the House to know how we can go about it. If you can give us a little synopsis of it, we’ll work with it.”
He said the House would look at the suggestion to review the retirement age for medical doctors and other health workers.
“On the increase in budget allocation, I believe it has been increased to some extent. I don’t know the exact figure right now, but we’ll look at it. If there’s need to review it further, we’ll do that.”
Earlier, the NMA President, Prof. Ujah, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, said the visit was to strengthen the relationship between the Speaker’s office and the association.
He pleaded with the Speaker for the House to come up with good legislation for the health sector; enhance the remuneration and allowances of medical personnel; ensure new retirement age of consultants at 70 and others at 65; improve funding and budgetary allocation for the sector as well as establish a bank for health as in the case of agriculture and industry.
On his part, the chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Hon. Tanko Sununu, a medical doctor, applauded the Speaker for all his interventions in the sector and said the NMA team was on a thank-you visit.
He then presented an award of excellence given to the Speaker by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) at its Annual General Meeting held recently.