REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT A PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, HELD AT THE SENATE CONFERENCE ROOM 022, GROUND FLOOR, NEW SENATE BUILDING, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, ABUJA, ON JANUARY 24, 2019.
1. I welcome you all to this One Day Public Hearing on a Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Federal Capital Territory Health Insurance Agency, which would institute the Federal Capital Territory Health Insurance Scheme FCT residents.
2. My sincere thanks to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on health, Distinguished Senator Dr. Olanrewaju Tejuoso for inviting me to declare open this important Public Hearing organised for the further consideration of the Federal Capital Territory Health Insurance Scheme Bill 2018.
3. Let me, once again, say a warm welcome to all stakeholders, Civil Society Organisations and interested members of the public here in attendance. Your presence is a demonstration of your commitment to improving the healthcare of our great nation; and in this instance, the residents of the Nation’s capital.
4. Ladies and gentlemen, many of you are aware of the challenges faced in the health sector. Statistics do not lie. Infant mortality rates remain far above acceptable levels, with about 33,000 maternal deaths each year. The identifiable causes range from funding, inadequate skills or equipment and infrastructure, amongst others.
5. Considering these challenges, you will agree with me that the path to better living standards for the citizens of this great country lies in the ability to provide a 21st Century healthcare that is not only affordable but accessible. Key to this needed provision is the issue of funding for the health sector. This is why, as part of our legislative agenda in the 8th Senate, we worked to ensure that 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund was included in the 2018 Budget, for the establishment of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
6. However, this is just one part of the struggle on the road to lasting solutions that should lead to the revival of our health sector. One other critical aspect is that of affordable health insurance schemes that remove the immediate burden from economically disadvantaged families, and allows for an inclusive approach to accessibility. In view of this, your gathering today to examine the provisions of the Federal Capital Territory Insurance Scheme Bill is crucial in bringing the vision to reality.
7. Let me say that as a medical doctor, I know all too well how these aforementioned challenges affect into real lives and real families. As I have mentioned before, it is an indictment us that we have been unable to provide citizens with adequate, affordable healthcare, and this leads to avoidable loss of life. Health Care Insurance is certainly one way to signal that we are determined to revamp our health sector to meet the needs of the people, and make for a stronger nation. This Bill will go a long way towards bringing this vision to reality for the residents of the Federal Capital Territory.
8. I therefore urge you all to make your frank and considered contributions and recommendations during this Public Hearing, because it is by so doing that we can truly say we have sought the participation of the people in formulating the proposed law, in line with democratic principles.
9. Accordingly, it is my pleasure to declare this Public Hearing open, and I hereby formally do so. I wish you fruitful deliberations and look forward to your findings and recommendations.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE