HEALTH MINISTER BACKS NATIONAL HEALTH BILL
Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has endorsed the controversial National Health Bill that was passed by the National Assembly.
Prof. Chukwu argued that the Bill represents the interest of the people and having passed through three presidents and five ministers of health, he was convinced that the content of the Bill was thorough and all encompassing.
He said this during a condolence visit to the family of the late Mrs Kate Bisi Demehin, a victim of United Nations Building bomb blast in Abuja, who until her death was an assistant director, Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Abuja. He said her death and that of all those who died in the bomb blast was a big loss to the ministry and the nation at large.
On the issue of regulation of stem cell research and organ transplant, which was contained in the Bill, the minister said it was important that those areas of healthcare be regulated.
He said the Bill would benefit the common man and all Nigerians. 'I read a report that says abortion has been legalised, there is no portion in the Bill that says it has been legalised in the country, it is still the status quo, which is that, abortion has not been legalised.
'But in terms of organ transplant, we have been performing kidney transplant and blood transfusion. We have started stem-cell research in Nigeria. But right now they are not regulated so we want it to be regulated.'
Chukwu faulted those who said the Bill had legalised abortion in Nigeria, stating that there was no clause in the Bill to that effect.
He, therefore, called on all those who were calling for the withdrawer of the Bill to have a rethink, as their action would not benefit the entire populace. He expressed hope that the Bill shortly would be signed into law and even if there are contentions on any issues raised in the Bill, it was subject to amendment. Addressing the family of the late Mrs. Kate Demehin, Prof. Chukwu advised the family of the deceased to bear the loss with fortitude, having in mind that the late Mrs Demehin lived a fulfilled life. He described her as a role model, who died while carrying out her official duties, and said the ideals she stood and fought for would not be in vain.
Mrs. Demehin, aged 50 years, was survived by a husband and four children. Responding, the widower, Mr. Alex Demehin expressed appreciation to the minister and his entourage for their concern and charged the government to ensure that the country enjoys adequate security and remains a single entity.
In his remark, the representative of UNICEF, Mr. Stanley Chitekwe, described the late Mrs Demehin as a hardworking woman whose life and work touched many lives.