The Role of Legislators in Maintaining Healthcare Standards in Nigeria

The Role of Legislators in Maintaining Healthcare Standards in Nigeria

Rifkatu Nghargbu, Onyimadu Chukwuemeka
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6044-3.ch002
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Access to quality healthcare is one of the fundamental human rights of every citizen irrespective of socio-economic status. In Nigeria access to quality and affordable health care by citizens, especially in rural areas, is a major challenge because many healthcare centres in rural areas do not meet the required health facilities standard for basic preventive and curative care. The Nigerian constitution specifies the need to make quality healthcare affordable for citizens, maintaining healthcare standards seems to be far from being achieved. The objective of the book chapter is to discuss the role of legislators in maintaining health care standards in Nigeria. A major role that the legislators can play to improve on standards is the establishment of agency by law that will monitor and enforce standard in States and Local Governments health facilities. The legislators can also amend the law establishing NPHCDA to provide for the establishment of Management Agencies to adequately ensure the maintenance of minimum standard structure for effectiveness of health care delivery.
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Legislators are a group of persons who are politically elected and mandated to make laws that will govern a country. In the context of Nigerian federalism, there are three categories of Legislators; Legislators at the federal level in the National Assembly and Legislators at the states and local government level in the State Houses of Assembly and Local government Councilors, respectively. All laws including health care laws are established by legislators at the various levels of government. Health care standards on the other hand are clear statements of expected quality of health care delivery and performance of all health care activities in all levels of health care systems. Health care delivery may include health care delivery procedures, availability of required health care facilities, quality of the available health care facilities, what is needed to produce quality services, clinical practice guidelines, statements of expected health care outcomes, among others.2

Evidence from surveys (Christian Aid, 2015; Kress, Su, and Wang, 2016) conducted show that many hospitals have not met the minimum standard stipulated by the NHA and minimum requirements for PHCs set by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) in Nigeria. Out of 737 facilities visited in a survey conducted by an NGO – Christian Aid, only 16 met NPHCDA stipulated standards for a catchment population of 10,000 to 20,000. In some rural areas, due to non-availability of PHCs and lack of basic facilities in the available PHCs, many patients patronize private clinics and health centres often managed by quacks to obtain healthcare. Services and facilities provided by most of these clinics and health centres are far below the acceptable standards expected of them. The resultant mismanagement of several health cases has occasioned many incidents of death of some patients3. Many other cases have led to the disability of the patients concerned with consequential life-long debilitating economic, social and psychological effects.

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