From: Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Mike Ogirima, has said following two years of the non-implementation of the National Health Act (NHA), it became necessary for his association to sue the Federal Government to stop its violation of the Act.
The NHA was signed into law by former president Goodluck Jonathan in October 31, 2014.
Since then, the Federal Government has been unable to implement the law, necessitating the NMA to draf the Federal Government to the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking the enforcement of Section 11 (2) (a) of the Act on the establishment of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
Listed as parties to suit are the registered trustees of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) as the plaintiff, while President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, as defendants.
The plaintiffs are seeking, among others, a declaration that the Defendants are under a statutory duty to jointly and severally give effect to Section 11(2) (a) of the National Health Act of 2014 declaration that the 1st Defendant’s continued refusal to execute, implement, and give effect to Section 11 (2) (a) of the National Health Act of 2014 constitutes a flagrant violation of Section 5 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Speaking at the public presentation of the NMA strategic plan 2017-2022 targeted at improving the association’s contributions to healthcare delivery, Ogirima emphasised that doctors would continue to exploit all legal means in pushing for the implementation of the NHA as it formed part of the six pivots of its plan.
The NMA president linked the recent inauguration of an inter-ministerial committee on the execution of the Health Act to the drastic action taken in collaboration with health Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Usman Mohammed in his goodwill message at the event, traced the country’s poor health indices and high disease burden to the non-implementation of key policies and laws.
Mohammed stated the support of the House for the call on Federal Government to commence on the administration of the Health Act, adding that it was highly regrettable that the Nigeria has failed to execute Abuja Declaration on Health Budgeting (2001) and is now struggling with making NHA 2014 fully functional.
“The health sector is in shambles, many are sick and some are traveling out for healthcare and this shouldn’t be so. We are yet to bring words to action, 16 years after the Abuja Declaration and we haven’t been able to get the Health Act implemented.
“But on part in the House of Representatives led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, we are willing to support interventions for improving healthcare delivery as health is top priority for the House”, Mohammed said.
Speaking of behalf of health CSOs, Executive Director of Community Health Research Initiative (CHRI), Aminu Magashu called on the Federal Government, to take active steps to ensure that the funding of National Health Act is reflected in the 2018 budget.