Senate Committee on Health has faulted conversion of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to a Presidential Steering Committee by the Federal Government without consultation with the National Assembly.
It also expressed surprise the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on strike despite what the Federal Government has done in meeting their demands.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe, made these assertions during a public hearing on a Bill titled: “Federal Medical Centre, Mubi, Adamawa State (Establishment) Bill, 2021” in Abuja”.
Oloriegbe’s comment on the conversion of the PTF to a steering committee on COVID-19 followed the submission of the Ministry on Bills either seeking to establish or upgrade existing healthcare facilities to tertiary institutions.
The Ministry had in its memorandum to the Committee kicked against the proposed upgrading of a general hospital in Mubi, Adamawa State to a Federal Medical Centre (FMC), adding there was already a teaching hospital in the state.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, who represented the Minister of Health, had said that there was need for consultation with the Ministry before such bills seeking to establish or upgrade existing healthcare facilities are drafted and presented.
Oloriegbe however faulted the Ministry’s position and insisted it is the executive that often neglects to consult with the National Assembly before announcing crucial policies or embarking on programmes.
Oloriegbe said: “But I want to say that we even consult you more in the executive than how you consult us.
“Because the executive can always say we are the policy makers. For example, I can make it public, I was listening to the radio yesterday and I heard that the PTF (on COVID-19) has been converted to a steering committee.
“We were not consulted in terms of what will be the operational mechanism and so on.
“What is the content of that conversion? How will the steering committee work? We were not consulted but we don’t mind but as part of our oversight we will come back and ask you.”
Oloriegbe also said the Senate is surprised that NARD still embarked on its proposed strike despite efforts made by the National Assembly and other relevant authorities to meet their demands.
He said that the blood of any patient that loses his or her life during the strike would be on the hands of the doctors.