Reps reject bill restricting public officials from foreign medical trips

The House of Representatives has on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 rejected a bill requesting to regulate foreign medical trips being embarked upon by public officials.

The House of Representatives during a plenary session - For Illustrative use (PM News)

During the plenary session while debating the report, some lawmakers claimed that the legislation would break the right of public officials.

The bill pushed towards the amendment of Section 46 of the National Health Act thus: “(1) A public officer of the Federal Government shall not embark on medical trip abroad without approval; or be sponsored for medical check-up, investigation; or treatment abroad at public expenses except in exceptional cases on the recommendation and referral by the medical board and which recommendation or referral shall be duly approved by the Minister or Commissioner as the case may be; or embark on medical trip abroad unless he satisfactorily proves to the office where the officer is working, that such ailment cannot be treated in Nigeria.

However, The Deputy Speaker, Mr Lasun Yusuf said the bill would cause discrimination among elected officials.

This bill is against my fundamental human right. There are two fundamental wrongs in this bill, it is against human right and it is discriminatory. Do not let us do a debate on this bill,” he said.

Another lawmaker from Kwara State, Mr Razak Atunwa, said that the bill was targeted at public officials over the mismanagement of the health care sector in the country.

He said in parts, “The fact that I am public servant does not mean I have given up my right. If the government has failed in providing hospitals, we cannot punish someone for it. The intention is right, but better funding for training of doctors, better funding for hospitals is the right way to go.”

The Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Mohammed Wase, from Plateau State, urged the House to “throw away” the bill.

He said, “I was in hospital in Nigeria for check-up and they said I was fine. Friends encouraged me to travel for check-up and I did, only to discover that I was not okay. I spent three months there. Now you are telling me to get approval. Please, this bill should be thrown out. Instead of banning people from travelling, we should create an enabling environment for people to invest in the healthcare sector.”

The House voted out the proposed law at the third reading during the plenary similarly rejected a bill sponsored by Mr Sergius Ogun, seeking to regulate sponsorship of children of public servants in foreign schools.

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