Reps Seek Free Medical Treatment For Pregnant Women In Public Health Facilities

Hon. Mohammed Shehu

The House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Federal Government to provide free medical treatment for pregnant women during and after delivery in public healthcare institutions across the country, with a view to reducing the rising cases of maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Shehu.

In his lead debate, Hon. Shehu said that public healthcare institutions are charged with the responsibility to provide medical services to humanity free of charge and are not restricted to pregnant women in the nation, but their efforts to encourage free treatment have not been fully realised.

“The House is aware that the government allocates an annual budget to public healthcare institutions to fund healthcare service delivery to citizens, particularly pregnant women whose families cannot afford medical treatment during pregnancy and childbirth.

“The House is also aware of the 2019 statistics report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which reveals that the fertility rate in the 2019 population of 200, 963, 599 was 5.67%; in 2018, 195,874,683 represented 5.67%; in 2017, 190,873,244 represented 5.67%, and in 2016, the total population of 186,960,241 represented 5.67% of the fertility rate of childbirth in the country, indicating the need for free medical treatment for pregnant women to boost the country’s fertility rate.

“The House is alarmed that Nigeria is grappling with high disease rates, resulting in an annual maternal mortality rate of expectant mothers and children due to pregnancy complications and the polio virus.

“The House is further aware that government neglect requires public healthcare institutions to have medical professionals give adequate attention to patients, including pregnant women, during childbirth to address complications and find permanent solutions.

“The House is disturbed that the 2019 UNICEF report shows that 7.2 million child births are recorded annually, with 262,000 babies dying at birth and 357 dying within the first month, while the birth rate in 2019 was 37,684 per 1,000 people, which represents a decline of 1.09% from 2018, while the birth rate in 2018 was 38.098 births per 1,000 people, representing a 1.25% decline from 2017, compared to the global average of 18.5 births per 1,000 population in 2016.

“The House is convinced of the need for the government to prioritise policy actions aimed at improving healthcare delivery systems, particularly for pregnant women, to alleviate their hardships and boost their confidence.”

Hence, the House tasked the Federal Ministry of Health to directives enabling free medical treatment for pregnant women during and after delivery in public healthcare institutions and implementing routine checks to ensure continuity, compliance by medical personnel, and sustainability of childbirth processes.

Hence, the House mandated the joint Committee on Healthcare Services and Healthcare Institutions to invite the Minister of Health to propose a solution to this innovative trend and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.