Senate Mulls Health Infrastructure Dev’t Agency

Senate Mulls Health Infrastructure Dev’t Agency

The Senate, on Thursday, passed through second reading, a Bill seeking for an Act to establish the Health Infrastructure Development Agency to provide a comprehensive framework to guide the planning, financing, construction, maintenance, and regulation of healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria.

The proposed legislation titled, ”Bill for an Act to establish Health Infrastructure Development Agency,” was sponsored by the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Osita Ngwu, who represents Enugu West.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the Bill, Senator Ngwu explained that the Bill seeks to promote development and improvement of healthcare infrastructure so as to enhance healthcare access, quality, and delivery across the country.

He further explained that it seeks to strengthen the healthcare system by focusing on the modernisation of healthcare facilities by leveraging public-private partnerships for sustainable infrastructure development.

The lawmaker lamented that the Nigerian healthcare industry faces challenges associated with outbound medical tourism, inadequate medical personnel and deteriorating medical infrastructure.

Making reference to a report by the International Trade Administration, which states that Nigeria is still underdeveloped, lacks modern medical facilities and its healthcare indicators were some of the worst in Africa, Ngwu recalled that to reverse this trend, government approved the second National Strategic Health Development Plan (2018-2020).

He pointed out that part of the objective of this plan is to improve availability and functionality of health infrastructure required to optimize service delivery at all levels, saying that it’s against this background that this Bill was proposed.

The lawmaker added that the Bill was a bold attempt at not only reversing the medical tourism of Nigerians to other countries, but also seeks to make Nigeria a medical destination hub within the shortest possible time.

Senator Ngwu said, “Healthcare infrastructure constitutes a major component of the structural quality of a health system. It is a key pillar that supports the aim of promoting improved standard of medical care and wellbeing. The Bill outlines the responsibilities and powers of a Board, emphasizes collaboration and coordination among stakeholders, and provides for the issuance of regulations and guidelines to support effective implementation of its objectives.

“The Bill proposes the establishment of an Agency to administer the framework for policy direction, standards, guidelines, efficient construction processes, and quality control measures. The Agency would also ensures that healthcare facilities are designed, constructed, and maintained to meet the highest standards and support the delivery of quality healthcare services.

“The Bill emphasizes the importance of rural healthcare access and outlines strategies for addressing healthcare disparities in rural areas. By implementing these strategies, Nigeria can enhance healthcare access and delivery in rural communities, improving health outcomes and reducing disparities. Provision is also made to accommodate the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the types of PPP models that can be employed. By implementing these guidelines, Nigeria can effectively leverage the expertise and resources of the private sector to improve healthcare access, affordability, and quality.”

Thereafter, the Bill was put to a voice vote by the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who presided over the session and it was passed and referred to the Senate Committee on Health Institutions for further legislative input.

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