The House of Representatives on Monday held a public hearing on five bills, one of which was seeking establishment of a Federal University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Niger State.
Two of the bills are to establish two Federal Medical Centres, one of which is to be located in Wase Federal Constituency, Plateau State, where the Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase, has been representing since 2007.
The legislations are titled, ‘A Bill for An Act to Enhance and Promote the Health and Wellbeing of Nigerians to Boost Local Healthcare Capacity,’ and ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the Federal University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bida, Niger State, for the Purpose of Providing Qualitative Education in Medicine and Health Sciences.’
Others are ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Federal Medical Centre, Wase,’ ‘A Bill for An Act to Establish the Federal Medical Centre Igboho, Oyo State,’ and ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Orthopaedic Hospitals Management Board Act, Cap. 010 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to Provide for the Establishment of Orthopaedic Hospital, Jos, Plateau State.’
The hearing was organised by the House Committee on Health Institutions.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Prof Is-haq Oloyede, however, issued warnings over the proposed bills.
For the Federal University of Medicine and Health Sciences, a former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; a former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana; and the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate and leader of the Niger State caucus in the National Assembly and Senator Abdulahi Sabi, declared their support for the institution.
The lawmaker representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency in Niger, Saidu Abdullahi, who sponsored the bill, decried the dearth of medical doctors in the state. According to him, Niger has a doctor-population ratio of one to 9,000.
Abdullahi said the situation was far worse than the national average of one doctor to 4,000 population, as against the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 1 doctor to 600 population for effective health care delivery.
The lawmaker said, “A recent survey by National Demographic Health Survey shows infant mortality rate of 100 deaths per 1000 live births and an under-5 mortality rate of 149 deaths per 1000 live births. Sadly, Niger State has the highest under-5 mortality in the North-Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria, and above the national average of 128 deaths per 1000 live births.
“Conversely, Niger state has one of the highest numbers of under-5 children with fever, seeking medical attention from health facilities or health care providers (73.2 per cent), above North-Central’s average of 71.8 per cent and national average of 63.4 per cent.
“The pronounced disproportion in health outcomes and access to health services in Niger state raises the question about the availability of qualified health care professionals.”