Ebonyi House of Assembly to Legislate on Maternal, Paternal Surveillance

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The Ebonyi House of Assembly says a bill for an Act to promote maternal and prenatal surveillance and response to check the incidences of pregnancy-related deaths in the state has passed its third reading.

The house said this on Monday in Abakaliki during a public hearing on Maternal and Prenatal Surveillance and Response Scheme and other related Matters Bill 2020.

The hearing was organised by the house Joint Committee on Health and Judiciary, Justice and Public Petitions and attended by medical professionals and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

It was supported by the International Republican Institute, a non-governmental organisation with assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Friday Nwuhuo, said the bill had sailed through the first, second and third readings in the house.

Nwuhuo, representing Ezza North East Constituency, further said the event was meant to provide health experts, CSOs and other stakeholders the opportunity to make inputs into the bill.

He said that the bill was sponsored by Dr Oliver Osi, representing Ivo State Constituency.

According to him, the bill provides for the scheme to be a corporate entity with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.

“The bill is so important because our mothers, our wives and our children are involved and their fate, lives and welfare are protected by the bill.

“If it becomes law, we shall have the hope that the wellbeing of our mothers and children will be given serious consideration by government at all levels.

“With the bill coming into law, we are sure that pregnancy-related deaths, still-births and problems associated with giving birth to children in the state will be reasonably tackled,” Nwuhuo said.

The Assemblyman urged the public to make strong inputs that would help to strengthen the provisions of the bill to enable it to achieve its purpose when signed into law.

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The sponsor of the bill told newsmen that it sought to strengthen the prenatal health system and provide increased surveillance and response for pregnant women in distress.

“The bill is all about ensuring that our women who go to hospital to give birth and their young ones do not die untimely death.

“The idea came during the last dispensation when we had the Child Care and Maternal Initiative floated by the former government.

“Because there was no law to back it up, the initiative died when the government wound up.

“A lot of women still die in hospitals during child birth and there is no serious attempt to stop this in the nearest future.

“This bill seeks to end this menace and when an agenda is put on the table, you begin to talk about implementation, how you are going to monitor and carry out evaluation.

“It will help to gather evidence on what has been going on and help to engender proper surveillance and response mechanism,” Osi said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that stakeholders and lawmakers jointly reviewed the bill chapter by chapter, made corrections and inputs to enhance its content.

The committee urged the public to further study the bill and come up with memos aimed at enriching the content. (NAN)

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