The Senate has directed its Committee on Health to investigate the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NNRA) over alleged failure to issue licences for importation of cancer treatment re-agents.
The Senate also directed the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to join in the investigation of the NNRA for its refusal to issue import licences to hospitals since December 2013.
The Senate Deputy Leader, Sen. Abdul Ningi (PDP-Bauchi), raised a Point of Order on a matter of urgent public importance calling for investigation of the NNRA for jerking licences fee from N200,000 to N2 million.
Ningi observed that with the increased cost of import licences, many cancer patients were exposed to untimely death due to their inability to afford going abroad for treatment.
Ningi said: “Bureaucratic bottleneck has stopped treatment of cancer patients in the country resulting in the death of many people which is avoidable. From last December, no single cancer patient was treated by the nuclear department of University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital and the National Hospital Abuja because they were not licensed. With this ugly development, most cancer patients in Nigeria will die because if lack of treatment except those who can afford to travel abroad. It’s very wrong for them to review upward the licensing fee because its critical to the treatment of cancer patients.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Wednesday’s plenary invoked the powers of the Senate under Order 52 to allow for discussion of the matter. It would be recalled that the Senate President David Mark had written to the NNRA requesting it to revert to the earlier licensing processes but to no avail.
Earlier, the Chairman, Health Committee, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa (PDP, Delta) had asked the Senate President to intervene in the matter. Okowa had informed Mark that a downward review of the import licences would enable the only two cancer treatment centres to import the re-agents needed for treatment of patients.
The two committees were given one week to submit their report to the Senate plenary.