Senate on Tuesday began the process of amending the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act which was last amended 28 years ago.
This followed the introduction of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Bill 2020, presently before the Upper Chamber.
The piece of legislation which scaled second reading on the floor during plenary on Tuesday seeks to review the legal framework for the regulation of Medicine and Dentistry in Nigeria.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), in his lead debate recalled that the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act M8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, was enacted by the Military administration in 1998.
According to the lawmaker, since 1998 the Act was amended by the same Military administration in 1991 and 1992.
He said: “The regulation of Physicians and Dental Surgeons in Nigeria historically preceded indigenous statutory provisions for such functions.
“The regulation started from pre-colonial administration (1472 to 1789). This was followed by the establishment of the West African Medical Service which originated from the Royal West African Frontier Force, WAFF 1902.
“The actual regulation of the conduct of medical and dental practitioners started in Nigerian with the establishment of the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Board in the Colonial Department of Health for the medical personnel whose names were on the register of the General Medical Council in England.
“The Director of Medical Services was its Chairman. This was the position of statutory regulation of the professions of medicine and dentistry until independence in 1960.
“Indeed, indigenous statutory provisions came into being through the efforts of the first Nigerian Inspector of Medical Services, Sir Samuel Manuwa which culminated in the promulgation by the Federal Parliament of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act which became operational from 18 December 1963.
“This law established the Nigerian Medical Council, the first regulatory body for Medicine and Dentistry in Nigeria. The Nigerian Medical Council was succeeded by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, statutory creations of the Military Decree No 23 of 1988, now Cap M8 LFN 2004.
“Since 1992, precisely 28 years ago, when it was amended, several attempts were made by the stakeholders to review the legal framework but none of the attempts have succeeded,” Oloriegbe said.
The Bill after consideration was referred by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary, to the Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary) for further legislative work.
In a related development, the Senate has considered a bill to boost infrastructural development in rural communities through the establishment of an Agency with the function of fostering environmental and ecological sustainability.
The Bill which is titled: National Integrated Community Development Agency Bill, 2020, is sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP – Anambra South).
Leading debate on the bill, Oduah noted that over two-thirds of Nigeria’s population reside in rural areas, adding that, “poverty in the country is wearing a rural face.”
According to the lawmaker, statistics show that from 28.3 percent in 1980, poverty among the country’s rural population which grew to 51.4 percent in 1985, increased to 69.8 percent in 1996.
Citing a survey conducted by the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Oduah said that water supply and energy services topped the list of the most pressing needs for rural households.
“In the survey, 77 percent of households rated access to adequate and safe water as the most critical element in escaping poverty. Access to electricity came second at 53 percent,” she said.
Oduah, however, stressed that “the Agency which this bill seeks to establish will evolve and implement policies and programmes in the areas of self-sufficiency in good and fiber, enhancement of Community productive activities, income generation, employment opportunities, reduction of Community-urban migration, poverty eradication and ultimately mainstreaming the Community dwellers into national development as well.”