Not a single Nigerian healthcare establishment currently providing healthcare services in the country is operating with a Certificate of Standards, says Dale Ogbunbayo, medical professional. This is even as the National Health Act (NHAct) clearly stipulates that public and private healthcare providers are required to hold a Certificate of Standards.
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Ogbunbayo said, according to the Act passed into law in February 2014, “All individuals, organisations, entities and governments will be required to hold a Certificate of Standards in order to provide healthcare services. Public and private healthcare providers are required to provide certain information on services offered and means of address in case of complaint. It includes regulation on responsibility for patient data confidentiality and access.”
He was speaking at a media roundtable on the implementation of the NHAct held Thursday in Abuja, organized by the UK Department for International Development-funded Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme.
However, he said over 4 years since becoming a law, many important provisions of the NHAct had “not been implemented at both federal and state levels. No health establishment is currently operating with a certificate of standard.”
Among others, the NHA’s provisions are the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), which is to be funded by 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation as well as donor grants; the establishment of a National Health System which will provide a framework for the regulation of healthcare services by public and private healthcare establishments as well as a National Health Policy, along with its guidelines for implementation.
The Act also provides more power to the National Council on Health – as the highest body for health policymaking and overseeing the implementation of the National Health Policy (NHP) as well as provide for the establishment of a National Health Management Information System as and a National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee whose mandate is to decide, if and where, new tertiary hospitals may be needed across the country.
Many important components of the NHAct are either partially implemented or have not been implemented at all. At the heart of the factors constraining the implementation of the provisions of the Act is lack of political will on the part of the government who will rather fund physical and touchable projects rather than fund healthcare service delivery matters such as Human Resource for Health (HRH), which are intangible.
If effectively implemented, the NHAct including its BHCPF, has the potential of helping Nigeria ensure access to quality healthcare services for its citizens towards attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC).